Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason and everything that means. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: OL Nate Herbig
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: Signed to a two-year, $8 million contract, Nate Herbig joins a Steelers offensive line that is still a bit of a work in progress. His contract is such that he could be a starter or a reserve, though at the moment it’s looking more likely that he will be a backup. Still, that’s not written in stone; he can earn his job the old-fashioned way.
A former college free agent out of Stanford, Nate Herbig comes to Pittsburgh in a big way—literally. He’s a big dude and isn’t shy about the fact that he considers himself a run-blocker. That’s something that the Steelers need, but even with his new deal, getting into the starting lineup is not a sure thing.
Even when signed, he was likely to be asked to compete with Kevin Dotson for the starting left guard job. Now the team has reportedly signed a starting guard who would automatically plug in ahead of both of them. But that is not finalized, for one thing, and for another, all jobs must be earned.
One thing Herbig has is a clear passion for the game, which he wears on his sleeve. His introductory press conference with the local media days ago told you all you would need to know about whether or not he really loves football.
At two years and $8 million, Herbig’s contract gives the Steelers flexibility. And there are no guarantees beyond 2023, so they could just as easily cut it short and make it a one-year, $4 million deal. They did give him a $2,920,000 signing bonus, so he’s not likely to be traded, though that can’t be entirely ruled out depending on how the rest of the offseason goes.
But as we said, we don’t even know what else is happening for sure right now. We know the reports, and they’re likely to be true, but they’ll all come to camp and work out amongst themselves who deserves to be on the field.
At worst, he could serve as a very good swing interior lineman (he does have some experience at center, more than Chris Hubbard did anyway), and that could possibly even use him as an extra blocker. The sixth lineman is usually tackle, but it’s not a rule, and they have used an interior player on the end in the past.