The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed two offensive linemen in free agency for the second year in a row. Only three of them, at most, could realistically be in the starting lineup, as all of them are interior players. By far the safest of the three is the most recent, Isaac Seumalo, coming over from the Philadelphia Eagles.
While the vast majority of his playing experience has come at guard, both the left and right sides, he is capable of playing anywhere along the line in a pinch. “It’s a blessing and a curse sometimes to be able to play so many positions and kind of go smoothly from one to the next”, he Alex Marvez on SiriusXM Radio yesterday in his public comments since signing with the Steelers, made official a couple days ago.
But what exactly will he be asked to do? He told reporters that the coaching staff hasn’t discussed that with him yet, but he’s open for whatever is in the best interests of the team. He was asked if he had a preferred position and declined to offer one, unlike others in the past such as Mason Cole.
“At the end of the day, the coaches want the best five out there at whatever position that may be, and that’s what I want too”, he said. “I’m a team guy first. I want to win games. I want to get back to the mountaintop. That’s about all I know”.
The simplest and most likely solution would be for him to come in and play at left guard, with Cole at center and James Daniels at right guard. That’s where Cole and Daniels played, respectively, a year ago. It’s where Cole prefers to play, and it retains the greatest amount of stability.
And Seumalo has played more at left guard in his career than any other spot, even though he played all of last season with the Eagles at right guard, so it works on that level as well. That way you’re only making a single one-for-one change along the offensive line, though that doesn’t provide fellow signee Nate Herbig with a chance to compete for a starting job.
It’s likely that the Steelers don’t have any firm plans in place just yet. They talked about valuing the position flexibility of Cole and Daniels (who was a college center and played the position earlier in his NFL career) when they signed the two last year, and I’m sure they’ll mention the same of Seumalo as well, even though his NFL experience at center is limited.
One does wonder how much time in the offseason they’ll dedicate to ‘tinkering’ to try to find the best combination of five, because as important it is to try to get your best linemen on the field, it’s just as important to get them working together and gaining critical experience as a unit.