Looking at the value of Moats and Spaeth

Ray Fittipaldo 8 years ago

The Steelers re-signed veteran linebacker Arthur Moats and tight end Matt Spaeth today, filling two key needs for the team one day before free agency begins tomorrow.

Moats gives the Steelers two outside linebackers under contract for the 2015 season. He joins starter Jarvis Jones as the only other outside linebacker on the roster. (Howard Jones remains on the offseason roster after spending his rookie season on the practice squad and Shawn Lemon was signed to a futures contract).

Could Moats start next season? It’s a possibility if the Steelers don’t re-sign Jason Worilds, but ideally Moats is a reserve who provides quality backup at left and right outside linebacker.

That was his role last season when he played 350 snaps. He played well when called upon, registering four sacks, four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Projecting Moats into a full-time starter is probably not a route the Steelers want to travel. One need only look at the way they viewed him last season. When Jarvis Jones was injured in the third game of the season at Carolina, the Steelers signed James Harrison, and Harrison eventually earned the majority of snaps at right outside linebacker.

The Steelers made that move two days after Moats had a strong game against the Panthers. He had a sack, another quarterback hit and four hurries. And still they brought back Harrison.

Moats gives the Steelers a fallback if they cannot sign Worilds or another veteran starter in free agency, but in an ideal circumstance he would remain a very good and versatile reserve.

Spaeth will turn 32 in November. He has been a quality reserve behind Heath Miller in two stints with the team. The only question about Spaeth is his ability to stay healthy.

Spaeth missed 12 games with a foot injury in 2013, his first season back with the Steelers after two seasons with the Chicago Bears. Last year he missed only one game with an elbow injury.

Spaeth played 361 snaps last season and is a strong run-blocker. He was a key component of the Steelers running game last season.

The top two tight ends on the depth chart are over 30 and Rob Blanchflower, who spent his rookie season on the practice squad, has to prove he can make the 53-man roster this summer, but now the Steelers do not have to draft a tight end unless they find value in one. And with a purportedly weak tight end class coming in the draft the Steelers might be well served to wait until next year.