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Should the Steelers sign Trai Turner?

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Adam Schefter of ESPN broke the news yesterday that five-time Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner visited with the Steelers. The Steelers certainly could use some depth at the guard position, but it's also unclear what's going on with veteran right guard David DeCastro.

DeCastro didn’t participate in any of the three mandatory minicamp practices this past week due to an undisclosed injury. Tomlin says it's nothing noteworthy, however.

"Again, if I thought injury circumstances or reasons why people were not participating were significant, I would share them with you," Tomlin said on Tuesday when asked why DeCastro wasn't practicing.

DeCastro dealt with a knee and abdominal injury last season, so he could have had surgery this offseason or it could be an issue completely separate. Nevertheless, DeCastro is 31 years old and the Steelers can't afford to have the likes of B.J. Finney J.C. Hassenhauer, or Rashaad Coward in the starting lineup if DeCastro is out for a while during the season. The same applies if Kevin Dotson goes down with an injury.

That's why if it comes on a cheap deal, I think the Steelers should definitely sign Turner. The LSU product was a third-round pick by the Panthers in 2014 and is only 28. Turner has 89 career starts under his belt and made the Pro Bowl every season from 2015-2019.

In March of 2020, the Panthers traded Turner to the Chargers in exchange for Russell Okung. Turner was released by the Chargers after one season on March 12, 2021, having started nine games at right guard and missed seven games, including six as a result of a groin injury.

Turner has had injury issues throughout his career, failing to play a full 16 games since 2016, but he was really hampered by the groin injury last year and it affected his play significantly. According to Pro Football Focus, Turner finished 79th out of a possible 80 guards in 2020. He's also regressed in his PFF grade every year since 2017, falling from 73.8 to 67.9 to 63.9 to 34.8.

Turner had a really bad year in 2020, but it should be considered that he wasn't healthy for a good portion of the season and he was playing on a new team in the middle of a pandemic. Some players adjusted to new teams better than others in 2020 while dealing with COVID-19 protocols, but just look how things turned out for B.J. Finney in Seattle and Cincinnati.

Turner might not be the same perennial Pro Bowl player that he once was, but those issues should be considered. Regardless of what happened in 2020, Turner still has a great resume and the Steelers need to provide better depth behind DeCastro and Dotson. And as noted, Turner is still only 28, too. But like anything, it will come down to what kind of compensation he's looking for.


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