Price Tag, Depth Chart Could Make Arthur Moats’ Roster Spot Vulnerable

This is a topic that I have been toying with for a bit now during the offseason, and it obviously hinges a fair bit on what the Pittsburgh Steelers decide to do with James Harrison and during the draft, but I can’t help but wonder about the job security about veteran outside linebacker Arthur Moats, who is entering his fourth season with the team.

To recap his situation very quickly, Moats currently finds himself roughly fifth on the depth chart at outside linebacker before we hit free agency, but that is expected to change since the Steelers are not anticipated to work to re-sign Jarvis Jones.

It is expected that they will retain Harrison, and the 38-year-old reportedly wants a two-year contract. The Steelers would likely leave him in the starting lineup for the time being, and Bud Dupree already assumed full-time duties when he returned from injured reserve last year.

Prior to Dupree returning, however, Moats already fell behind on the depth chart to second-year outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo, who replaced the veteran in the starting lineup in the sixth game of the season against the Dolphins. The former sixth-round pick remained in the starting lineup even after Dupree returned initially, and Moats started to find himself on the bench.

If the Steelers are already bringing Harrison, Dupree, and Chickillo back for the 2017 season, that leaves Moats in a position in which he is at best the fourth outside linebacker, a season after the coaching staff stated their intention to move away from the rotational duties that they have seen for most of the past two seasons due to insufficient talent at the top of the depth chart.

The real concern for Moats, however, is not necessarily his position in the pecking order, but rather the fact that the decrease in his role is incongruous with his salary. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $2.25 million in 2017. The Steelers would save the entirety of that value if they should choose to release him.

The likelihood of that occurring would increase substantially if the Steelers end up drafting an outside linebacker in the first round as a player who will immediately serve as a reserve, if not a rotational player, behind Harrison, as a succession plan would obviously seem to be in the cards at the right outside linebacker spot.

Moats himself will be turning 29 in March during the first week of free agency, so he is not exactly the youngest of the bunch. But he is extremely well-liked among his teammates on a personal level, and I expect that holds true for the rest of the organization as well.

He is a great team player who is willing to work on special teams as well, and is capable of playing on either side of the field in any capacity in terms of workload. He is a good player who is capable. But the simple question is, if he is fifth on the depth chart, will the team balk at paying him over $2 million?

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Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • steelburg

    I think if they want to keep him this would be a easy fix. I think Moats would easily take a pay cut to stay in town IMO.

  • heath miller

    what a shame to lose him … one of the nicest guys on the team and a community leader..

  • Michael Mosgrove

    keep moats. we dont know what the draftee will accomplish. if they need the roster spot they could always trade him before the deadline. there is always bound to be a roster spot in another position that can be used as well. such as shamarkos spot on the roster.

  • capehouse

    There’s still a chance Moats hangs on to that 5th spot even if we draft an OLB high, because they usually carry 5 OLBs, and there’s not another OLB currently on the team that could beat him out. If they double dip OLB in the draft or even pick up a cheaper option in free agency that could change, but I think Moats will make it to camp at least.

  • StolenUpVotes

    Bottom of the depth chart and still found a way to be T-4th on the team in sacks. Now those sacks weren’t exactly of high quality, but at the end of the day he got the dude on ground. I don’t see him getting cut to be honest.

  • WreckIess

    It would suck because he’s a good guy to have in the locker room, but you don’t win with good guys you win with good players. I wouldn’t mind them replacing him for someone with a rookie or even another free agent that could make that 4th or 5th spot stronger in the long run. That position is in need of depth.

  • John Pennington

    I’m not for keeping a player around just to play ST.Moates playing time has gone down if just don’t make sense to keep a player around and his salary.The team can do better at that spot and they should upgrade there.

  • RickM

    They’re clearly not keen on him as his snap count is always reduced down the stretch, and Butler made the inference that he ‘is not where he needs to be’ on some plays. But someone else would have to replace him as the #5 guy, so the overall cost savings aren’t that great. I imagine he’ll be back.

  • Ralph Wagner

    He is extremely well-liked among his teammates on a personal level, and I
    expect that holds true for the rest of the organization as well.

    That’s the big difference between the Steelers and the Patriots. Belichek is not a man with deep loyalty when it comes to his players. His only interest is to field the best players/team he can. I guess his system works. just say’n.

  • steeltown

    I’d hang onto him. Even with a new high draft selection, if Harrison or Dupree go down then we’re right back to being thin and Moats can play either side and special teams.

  • NinjaMountie

    I like Moats but I’d probably have to let him go strictly for monetary reasons. He and Harris are the only ones that can bring any real cap relief with over 4mill worth of savings pre june 1. I could see both of them being gone for just that reason.

  • NimbusHex

    Great guy, but unfortunately hasn’t been James Farrior I think they envisioned.

  • LucasY59

    I would much rather double up on rookie OLBs than keep Moats at his cap cost

    Arthur has shown that he has no starter value at all, and at the end of the yr was not contributing on STs either, he was surpassed on the depth chart by Chickillo so he is already expendable IMO

    the money they spend on Moats could cover the cap cost to re-sign Harrison so that makes it a no brainer on which player you would rather have

    I think they could keep him through the preseason and that way if there is some unfortunate injury they have some insurance, but I would not have him taking many practice snaps/reps since the young players would benefit more from the experience, and Moats would be a long shot to make the roster

  • LucasY59

    if he took a pay cut it would help his chances a lot

  • LucasY59

    once Dupree got on the field he didnt, so I dont see him getting sacks this coming season (unless Bud gets hurt, which would be really disappointing) injury insurance would be the ONLY reason to keep him, and that is a expensive insurance premium, plus Chick was getting snaps ahead of him, so he isnt even the first guy in after someone gets hurt

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    I think he’s better than Chickillo but not by much as well as being much more experienced. If he can accept a pay cut then I say keep him.

  • Matthew Marczi

    They tend to go through phases of carrying four or five. It’s lately been five, partially influenced by the rotation and the fact that the fifth guy was a late-rounder, but if your fifth guy is costing you millions, that’s a different story.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He wasn’t on the bottom at the start of the season. He entered both of the last two years as the starter.

  • Matthew Marczi

    So can Chickillo, and they moved him up the depth chart.

  • Robert E Lil

    Chickillo is a winner. The Patriots would turn that guy into a super star. Steelers place too much value on draft position in lieu of what you do on the field. Otherwise you’d see more of Chickillo and Vince Williams.

  • H.K. northern cali

    Like Timmons?

  • StolenUpVotes

    Fair. Will most likely come down to how the draft shakes out

  • StolenUpVotes

    Fair enough

  • capehouse

    That’s true. If a draft pick can make an immediate impact maybe they’re comfortable keeping 4. I’d cut Moats. He’s a nice guy but barely an average player. Still think he makes it to camp though.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Yeah, if anything I think he’ll probably be a final roster cut, unless they feel early on that they want to move in another direction and let him go early to give him a chance to catch on with another team as soon as possible.

  • Biophys

    It is worth remembering that Moats also provides depth at ILB. I believe that factored into his current contract.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    They do place too much value on draft position. That’s the only way I can explain Jarvis getting as many starts as he did. Dunno about Chick ever becoming a star though.

  • Applebite

    It’s how they lost Vrabel back in the day. He’d actually been an upgrade over Gildon when you break everything down. But when the Pats saw him on the market, the rest is history. I think most of the issues comes from holding on to ideas that worked in the past. Sometimes, you don’t want to mess with what you know or feels works best….

  • Aj Gentile

    If he is a winner he should be showing it

  • LucasY59

    if Lawrence really wants to play for the Steelers this yr, I think he will have to take a under market value deal to stay