Player: Anthony Chickillo
Position: Outside Linebacker
Free Agent Status: Restricted
2017 Salary Cap Hit: $615,000
2017 Season Breakdown:
Over the course of the past three seasons, former sixth-round pick Anthony Chickillo has had the distinction of being something of a fan favorite. Yet with each passing season, his fan club has dwindled a bit, and I believe there is good reason for that.
Increasingly few people are now viewing him as a player who is capable of being a strong full-time starter, and nothing that he did in 2017 convinced me otherwise. He looked basically to be the player that he is, which is a reserve.
Most concerning is the fact that he was prone to errors that were not previously obvious. His work in containing the edge against the run was an issue, even while some of those mistakes have been falsely attributed to him when it was actually an issue in the secondary.
But he made enough mistakes of his own to be accounted for, and coupled with missed tackles and an uninspired time in coverage, there was nothing in his 2017 season tape that aspires to being anything more than an average rotational player.
And the truth is, there is nothing wrong with that, for those who are willing to settle on that being what he is. Frankly, this is an overly critical evaluation of his season relative to the role that he has played, and would continue to play if he remains with the team, but there is a fan-driven push for him to own a bigger role that I felt deserved to be addressed.
Free Agency Outlook:
While the Steelers might be hard-pressed to get by without Chickillo as depth if there are other issues, the role that he is projected to play for the team in 2017 may not really justify the value of a restricted free agent tender.
While he may have recorded three sacks last season, on over 100 snaps as a pass rusher, he did not record a significant amount of pressure overall. Both Watt and Dupree (despite what many will say) did a better job of converting rushes into pressure with greater frequency.
Previously, Chickillo’s most admirable quality was the notion that he was sound to his assignment, always in position, and stout as a tackler. But that would not accurately describe his 2017 season, which saw him make a number of assignment errors in addition to missing tackles.
All of those makes me question just how valuable he is and whether it is worth giving him a tender or attempting to sign him to a lower one-year deal, especially if the team intends to invest heavily in the position this offseason. This might not be the popular opinion for those who believe he will unseat Dupree for a starting job in 2018, but I will say this: if he does, then the Steelers are in no better shape than they are now.