3 difficult decisions Steelers will need to make this offseason

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The Steelers need to decide if the Mark Robinson experiment is worth continuing

Mark Robinson may not be a starting contributor like the other two players mentioned here, but he has been groomed for two years to become one and has yet to inspire much confidence that he can be.

Robinson is a converted running back from his days at Ole Miss and was drafted in the seventh round, so expectations have never been sky-high for him. However, he's been a pet project for the Steelers for long enough that it's time to rip the band-aid off and decide if he's going to be a contributor on defense, be relegated to special teams, or cut entirely.

There is plenty to like about Robinson. He's similar to Vince Williams but with an extra boost of speed. He's a downhill thumper who can close the gap quickly and arrive at the ball carrier with violent intentions. Those qualities preserve some usefulness on special teams and allow him to, on occasion, make splash plays on defense.

However, he's been slow to learn how to read and react to the play unfolding before him and isn't trustworthy in coverage, whether from a matchup standpoint or in communication and understanding his responsibilities.

With all of the injuries and subsequent shuffling done at inside linebacker in 2023, fans would have expected to get a clearer idea of what Mark Robinson is for this team, but they are still left with more questions than answers.

Robinson played in every game, starting in two. He logged 151 snaps on defense, exactly half of his special teams snaps. He finished with 30 total tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

However, the fact remains that when Kwon Alexander and Cole Holcomb went down with season-ending injuries and Elandon Roberts battled his own for half the season, the Steelers looked elsewhere for solutions. Myles Jack, Mychal Walker, and Blake Martinez were brought in for support. Jack and Martinez were retired to start the season - that doesn't exactly scream confidence in Mark Robinson.

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This isn't to say Robinson is a bad player or isn't making progress. But the Steelers need help at inside linebacker, and Mark Robinson needs to either be a part of the help or be replaced with someone who is. The Steelers have time and effort invested, not money. But they still don't want that time and effort wasted. They need to allow him to truly contribute on defense, or cut their losses.