Next 4 Games A League-Wide Audition For Chris Hubbard Entering Free Agency

If you told me back in 2014 during his first season on the 53-man roster that Chris Hubbard would be the primary (though not intended) starter at a spot along the offensive line at any point of his career, whether with the Pittsburgh Steelers or otherwise, I would have laughed at you.

I’m not laughing now, and not because I think the reality of that truth is frightening, but because he has since proven himself to be a capable backup offensive lineman, and has already made eight starts over the course of the past two seasons in place of Marcus Gilbert at right tackle, and set to start four more.

The reason for that, as we have already touched on several times over the course of the past 24 hours, is because Gilbert has been suspended for four games due to a violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

But the long and short of it is that Hubbard now has for himself a nice, long stint to truly prove his worth to the team. Or perhaps to another team. The former undrafted free agent is in his fourth season this year and playing under a restricted free agent tender, which he has more than earned.

But he will be a free agent in 2018, and provided that he continues to play over the next four games at least as well as he has had in his previous appearances in the starting lineup, then I would not find it surprising if he were able to find a suitor for a full-time starting job come March or April next year.

That could prove to be a problem for the Steelers next year, for not the least of which reason being the fact that the backup tackle position has proven over recent years to be crucial time and time again, as evidence by the fact that Hubbard will have started 12 games over the past two years by the time this one is over.

And believe me, there are worse starters out there than Hubbard.

Considering that 2016 fourth-round draft pick Jerald Hawkins has not even been able to leapfrog Matt Feiler, who has spent most of the past couple of years playing guard, as the backup to the backup tackle, one might find it concerning if the Steelers lose Hubbard after this season.

But of course there is a long time between now and then for such things to be settled. This next four-game stretch will really be the audition, the game film that scouting departments are going to watch when it comes time to sign players in free agency.

The better he plays, the better it is, of course, for Pittsburgh and their hopes of winning a Super Bowl this year. But the better he plays, the higher his price tag will also get, even if it is far from exorbitant, and the less likely he is to be re-signed, without a proven viable alternative behind him.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • nutty32

    Kelvin Beachum part II?

  • CountryClub

    Hubbard has looked solid this year, but he hasn’t looked like a starting T to me. I cant see anyone bringing him to camp as their presumed starter. I bet he’s back in Pittsburgh next year.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I think Hawkins will be the swing OT next yr and Hubbard will be a starting OT somewhere else.

    Right now…active roster, Hubbard might be the best OT on at least half dz teams…I think he’d be starting in CIN, CLE or BAL at RT.

  • nutty32

    All it takes is a bit more $ than the cap conscious steelers can offer and a promised opportunity to compete for a starting job. 74 is positively blocked in Pittsburgh barring the unexpected.

  • CountryClub

    That he is.

  • Iulo

    lol…. indeed, if he looks for money he will have plenty of opportunities I guess
    he is an ideal backup T… not sure if he is a starter for a long contract, so he may get 1yr or 2yrs contract with possibility to extend the period if he does well

  • capehouse

    Who’s he auditioning against?

  • Lee Foo Young

    There are always backyp RTs to be found in the NFL. I’m not worried about us getting a backup at any position.

  • Sam Clonch

    Here’s hoping he plays great, we win the next 4 straight, he gets a HUGE FA contract, and Steelers land a nice comp draft pick!

  • Bradys_Dad

    For the very most part, all players success (or failure) can be somewhat attributed to the system and teammates associated within. Would Hubbard be as successful (relatively speaking) if he was on another line, with another coach (not Coach Munchak) in a different style of offense? Hard to say, but his current play has to be weighted in some form within all of these variables. I am all for a guy making the kwan but at this point and with the expectation that he’d like to continue improving, I think he’d be best served by staying put with the black and gold.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Anybody else who will be a free agent at his position next year, not that I have a list. But the fact that he can play anywhere won’t hurt.

  • capehouse

    Nah I meant who’s he going up against the next 4 weeks. Suppose I could look myself. Lazy.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Ah. Well in my opinion his biggest challenge will be Carlos Dunlap. Matt Judon has been doing a nice job too in his first year starting for the Ravens. Of course they occasionally put Terrell Suggs over there too. Up next is Nick Perry, who has seven sacks on the year after finally living up to his draft stock the past two seasons. Nobody on the Patriots has really been threatening this year. They heavily rotate to both sides but Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise have been the primary right edge rushers.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    someone please take mother hubbard.