Devil’s Advocate: Most Successful Former Steeler

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: Which free agent former Steeler that signed with other teams this offseason do you expect to have the best career after leaving Pittsburgh?

It is not every year, but following the 2016 season, the Steelers saw the departure of some fairly significant puzzle pieces—some of whom were supposed to represent a bigger piece than they ended up being, for whatever reason that might be.

During free agency, wide receiver Markus Wheaton signed with the Bears, while outside linebacker Jarvis Jones signed a contract with the Cardinals. Most significant, given that he was a long-time starter for Pittsburgh, inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons signed in free agency with the Dolphins.

The easiest case to make is for Timmons, who appears to be the only one guaranteed significant playing time as a likely starter. But when speaking globally about the rest of his career, it’s not clear how much tread is left on his tires. He has put 10 years in already, while Wheaton and Jones are going on five.

Wheaton is a talented wide receiver who has been prevented from having a bigger role due to injuries and the development of talent around him. It’s certainly possible that he carves out a starting job for himself with the Bears, perhaps in the slot, and blossoms into the receiver the Steelers intended to draft in the third round in 2013 with him.

As for Jones, it’s hard to be optimistic about his ability to become a splashy pass-rusher, but the Cardinals have talked about him in a sense that they intend to use him differently than a traditional pass-rushing outside linebacker.

They already have a couple of those, after all, and credit where it’s due, Jones has produced some splash plays in terms of forcing or creating turnovers, and is a solid tackler in run support and elsewhere. As long as they’re not counting on him to produce sack numbers, they can certainly get work out of him.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Big White

    Yeah. It’s Timmons by a ways. Playing in his home state, Fish a talented bunch. Lots left in his tank.

  • Milliken Steeler

    If Chicago had a QB, I would actually go with Wheaton. I think Timmons will do well for a year or two and maybe it’s just me, but I would have kicked Jarvis inside. He is around the ball, just not close enough to the QB. I wish all of them well though.

  • Darth Blount 47

    That’s obviously a really tough question to answer… But I’m rooting hardest for Shamarko Thomas.

    Anybody who loses their parents within 9 months of each other like that, and steps up to essentially become the father-figure to 5 younger siblings… I mean, man. I really hope Thomas is able to carve out a heck of a niche in New York and continue to play in this league and grow as a player. It would be real cool to see him still in this league say, 5-6 years from now.

  • Steve Johnson

    I hope all three of them has great success, should render a high compensation pick.

  • Steelers12

    i think Wheaton’s comp pick can’t be no higher than 5 no matter how he performs

  • Steelers12

    Timmons will be above average for the next 2 years
    Jones will be a average player for the next 4 to 5 years
    Thomas will have a spot in the league due to special teams
    Wheaton can be a good WR if he gets a QB which the Bears don’t have right now

  • Craig M

    Timmons is a lock as continuing his career on an up note but I think Wheaton has the most upside ability for the future- depending on his QB/ OC.

  • Luke

    I am rooting for Shark as I always have since he was drafted. But my pick is Jarvis in AZ, he was a guy that took advantage of being on a great Georgia defense and he can do the same over in AZ.

  • RickM

    In the short-term, it’ll be Timmons. Matt Moore is already raving about what he’s seeing, i.e. basically him flying around the field and setting a good example for other players.

    In the longer term, I guess Wheaton makes the most sense. But I don’t think he’ll match his 2014 and 2015 stats unless he ends up with a top QB down the road.

  • 6 ring circus

    Don’t think it will be him, but, yeah, easy to root for a guy like that. I thought he was going to be all that the Steelers hoped he’d be, especially after he went to jedi school with yoda out in California. Hope he sticks and is able to continue to provide for his sibs. Go Ocean Lakes.

  • 6 ring circus

    I believe it’s Timmons. He’ll no longer have the burden of carrying the torch of being a great Steeler linebacker, although he did well in that endeavor. On a team not named the Steelers, his play will continue to stand out.

  • Nunya

    Timmons short term but Wheaton is a wild card. He has shown flashes and if he finds a rythem with a QB, he could do very well. He is no Sweed😂

  • VaDave

    Timmons hands down.

  • LucasY59

    Timmons is the one with the 5th rd limit (on the comp) because he is a Vet (with a certain amount of yrs played,Wheat and Jarvis are just starting their 2nd contract and depending on play could earn a higher pick)

  • Steelers12

    oh ok thanks for clearing that up

  • pittfan

    I liked shamarko and hope he does well. GOod kid

  • gdeuce

    he won’t be playing very much there

  • pittfan

    Hopefully the Fins put an L on the Brady bunch this year. We want the #1 seed

  • walter

    If you dont have anything to write about, it might be interesting to make a list of the most successful players we lost over the years to other teams in each decade. Going back to those years when free agency first started I believe we lost an entire team in a short time

  • Matthew Marczi

    That’s actually a really good idea. It would be an interesting series to kill some of the downtime as we wait for training camp.

  • walter

    Its old news now but I remember being very frustrated as a fan. I believe we could have been a dynasty if not for free agency. I figured it out once years ago and according to my rough estimate, we lost a pro bowl caliber player at almost every position but maybe Center because Dawson stayed. I just Googled it and Lake, Woodson, Searcy, Chad Brown and Hardy Nickerson all made the Pro Bowl in one season when none made it for Pittsburgh. And 8 others players played for other teams that season. We lost a ton a good players in those years.

  • Mike C.

    Would also be interesting to see a list of big names who were let go and were basically never heard from again (ie: no pro bowl seasons, out of the league within a few years, etc.). I think we tend to remember the ones we wish we had back but I bet there are more guys that never had the success they had in Pittsburgh than there were who flourished elseswhere.