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Devil’s Advocate: Green Deal An Obvious Mistake

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Was it a mistake at the time for the Steelers to sign tight end Ladarius Green?

Many, including some in the local media, have already begun dubbing the signing of Ladarius Green last offseason as the worst free agent move in team history—if they hadn’t already done so last summer. There is certainly a case to be made in hindsight. But how bad of a deal was it at the time? There are several factors to consider.

One of them is what the Steelers knew and when they knew it about Green’s health. They knew he had three documented concussions, but also that he only missed time—a game apiece—from two of them. They also knew that he was recovering from ankle surgery, but they even underestimated how long that would take to recover.

At the end of the day, Pittsburgh bought Green for one injured season at a value of $6 million. That is only 20 percent more than the average yearly value of the contract, so it’s not exactly terrible in that regard. They basically got one-fourth of the contract—if you ignore the fact that he only played a third of their games.

The Steelers had high ambitions for what Green would bring to their offense, and logical ones. After a decade of the stalwart Heath Miller, they wanted to go in another direction, knowing they wouldn’t be able to replace him. Green was going to be the dynamic seam-stretcher that they never had before. It was a bold plan that, frankly, nearly worked out.

But they had reason to believe, perhaps not that it would not work out, but that it might not take much for that to happen. One more concussion and it seems as though his career is over now. It was a risk that they chose to take, but it’s up to the individual to determine whether or not, at the time, it was a risk worth taking.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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