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Setting the odds on Steelers players returning for 2020

Every year NFL teams cycle through a decent percentage of their roster. The 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers will potentially be on the higher end of this scale. The team is still up against the salary cap despite having its share of free agents for next season. We took a look at some of the major players who could be gone in 2020, and put a percentage on whether they’d be back in a Steelers uniform next year.

2020 FREE AGENTS:

Bud Dupree – 95%

When Mike Tomlin mentioned in his press conference that Dupree was a “top priority” to bring back, that told us all we needed to know. At the very least, the team will use the franchise tag to keep Bud for next season.

Tyler Matakevich – 90%

He won’t cost much, and the coaching staff loves him…..done and done. In fairness, Matakevich has made himself into a special teams demon. He deserves to be a member of this team going forward.

Nick Vannett – 75%

The good news is that Vannett did very little to up his value in 2019. The bad news is Vannett did very little in 2019. Kevin Colbert gave up a substantial draft pick to acquire from the Seahawks, so the expectation is they would want him back. The Steelers should be able to lock up their backup tight end at a very cap friendly number this off-season.

Matt Feiler – 70%

Feiler is a restricted free agent meaning the Steelers can tender him, and therefore match any offer made to him. Any team that does sign him would have to give up a draft pick depending on what round the Steelers tender him at. That would seem like a very unlikely scenario. The assumption is that if the team moves on from Ramon Foster, Feiler would be the top candidate to replace him at left guard.

Zach Banner70%

Another player who won’t cost much, and the team seems to like quite a bit. Banner spent a whole lot more time active on Sundays than former third round pick Chuks Okorafor. Banner should be back to battle for the team’s starting right tackle spot.

Mike Hilton – 50%

This is a tricky one. Obviously the Steelers would want Hilton back if their cap situation was better. Placing anything less than a second round tender on Hilton would surely mean losing him. However, putting a second round tender on him would be very costly. Not to mention the team has Cam Sutton as a ready made replacement. There is a decent shot the Steelers put a third round tender on him hoping to recoup the pick.

BJ Finney – 40%

With Finney likely being second choice as a replacement for Foster at guard, he becomes a little too pricy as a backup. Pittsburgh probably drafts another offensive lineman and lets Finney walk.

Sean Davis – 40%

The Steelers may be inclined to bring Davis back as their third safety. This all depends on what other teams will value him at on the open market. Davis is a former second round pick with excellent athletic traits. That might be attractive to other teams around the league.

Javon Hargrave – 10%

This is all about money, pure and simple. The Steelers would love to have their talented defensive lineman back in 2020. Unfortunately, Hargrave’s play has priced him well out of Pittsburgh’s budget. The team does not have anywhere near enough cap space for both him and Bud Dupree.

Artie Burns – 0%

Enough said.

POSSIBLE CUTS:

Vance McDonald – 60%

When looking for salaries to cut to make room to sign Bud Dupree, McDonald’s $6 million looks attractive. The problem then becomes who plays tight end for the Steelers in 2020? Vannett is also a free agent, leaving the team with only Zach Gentry on the roster. The Steelers would have to sign a decent free agent, nullifying most of what they would save by cutting Vance in the first place. This will be a situation that bears watching as the off-season unfolds.

Devlin Hodges – 40%

It’s pretty clear now that Hodges does not have the physical tools to be a starter in the NFL. His height and arm strength are just too much to overcome. Even winning the third quarterback spot is a stretch at this point. “Duck Mania” was fun while it lasted.

Ramon Foster – 20%

Like most of these players, Foster will become a cap casualty so that the team can make enough room for the Dupree signing. Foster slipped a little in 2019, and the team has some cheap replacements already on hand. It is very likely we have seen the last of Ramon Foster in a Steelers uniform.

Mark Barron – 10%

He was likely only signed as insurance in case the team couldn’t trade up to get Devin Bush. Well they did, and now the need for a $5 million part time linebacker is no longer there. Mark Barron will be playing elsewhere in 2020.

Anthony Chickillo – 0%

This is the first place Kevin Colbert will go to start trimming the Steelers salary cap number. It’s curious how he even got his two year/ $10 million dollar contract in the first place. That number is way too high for basically a special teams player. Chickillo will be playing for the veteran’s minimum wherever he lands next season.

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