The Pittsburgh Steelers have a rich lineage at outside linebacker which they’ve built using premium picks like Jack Ham, Joey Porter or LaMarr Woodley but also players such as Greg Lloyd and James Harrison who entered the league as afterthoughts.
- Interestingly enough, for as strong as the starters have been, they’ve never really had much in the way of understudies of note.
That’s a bit of a contrast to inside linebacker, where Jerry Olsavsky and later Larry Foote (after his return) forged names for themselves as backups who could step in at a moment’s notice without the unit missing a beat.
Could Anthony Chickillo play that role at outside linebacker? As he reaches free agency we may soon find that out.
Capsule Profile of Anthony Chickillo’s Steelers Career
When the Steelers drafted Anthony Chickillo in the 6th round of the 2015 NFL Draft he was facing a depth chart topped by James Harrison, Jarvis Jones, Bud Dupree and Arthur Moats.
- Just making the team was going to be a challenge.
But Chickillo made the team playing mostly on special teams where he forced and recovered a fumble. In 2016, Anthony Chickillo started a total of 7 games, both due to injury and a rotation system, where he recorded 2.5 sacks and forced two more fumble. In 2017 Anthony Chickillo only made 2 starts, but recorded 3 more sacks. He also recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown in the season opener against Cleveland.
In 2018 didn’t make any starts as the coaches scrapped the rotation system, in part to keep T.J. Watt on the field. Yet Chickillo’s snap count remain relatively constant, as he made 1.5 sacks and recovered two more fumbles.
The Case for the Steelers Resigning Anthony Chickillo
In the age of the salary cap, depth can often be a primary difference maker.
If you think that’s just a cliché look at how the Steelers wide receiver corps struggled down the stretch in 2016 where the Steelers tried every possible combination of Eli Rogers, Cobi Hamilton, Sammie Coates or Demarcus Ayers and none of them could take heat off of Antonio Brown.
Anthony Chickillo isn’t going to be a prime-time starter at outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he has done everything this team has asked of him. Anthony Chickillo has delivered when called upon. He’s provides a quality backup presence who can play at both sides as well as special teams.
Those are 3 good reasons to keep Anthony Chickillo in Pittsburgh.
The Case Against the Steelers Resigning Anthony Chickillo
Outside linebacker isn’t a position of strength for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and bringing Anthony Chickillo back does nothing to change that calculus. Sure, he does well enough in spot duty, but who is to say that Ola Adeniyi and Keion Adams can’t do the same, but for less money?
The Steelers have gotten good value out of Anthony Chickillo considering his status as a 6th round pick but he’s reached his ceiling and it is time to move on.
Curtain’s Call on the Steelers and Anthony Chickillo
Well, unlike Jesse James, there are no reports of other teams rushing to sign Anthony Chickillo away from the Steelers. And that’s not a surprise.
Last year when Anthony Chickillo was a restricted free agent, staff writer Tony Defeo was of the opinion that Anthony Chickillo was perhaps worth tendering, but nothing more. Yours truly labeled him as someone who was “starter capable.”
- A year later, it seems like the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Anthony Chickillo perhaps isn’t “starter capable” but he’s hardly a roster bubble baby. No, Anthony Chickillo has proven he’s ready to be a number 3 outside linebacker in the NFL, and that makes him valuable to Pittsburgh.
The Steelers should see that in him and they most likely do, and will keep in in Pittsburgh.