The final week of the NFL season is here, and the Steelers still find themselves in the thick of things when it comes to the playoffs. All of this despite a poor season offensively and a slew of problems that haven’t truly been resolved. Because of this, there are a lot of players who will be looked at under a microscope during this final game.
A big statement game could set them up comfortably in their role next year despite struggles this season. Likewise, another dud of a game will continue to put question marks around their status with the team in the future. Not only is this a big week for the team due to the playoff implications, these four players are playing for their role next season, and potentially for their Steelers career moving forward.
Steelers will have to make a choice on Mason Cole
The early eye test was actually a good one from veteran center Mason Cole. Signed to provide some stability at center, and he did just that in year one. No, he wasn’t elite, but he was a consistent force on the line and an upgrade over what the team had in Kendrick Green.
Heading into year two, the expectation was for more of the same. While Cole would never be mistaken for a top-ten center in the league, another season of stout play would be fine with the other upgrades the team had made along the line. This would have, likely, allowed Cole to see the final year of his contract even if the team looked to draft his replacement this offseason.
Instead, Cole looked like a shell of himself this year. His blocking has been atrocious at times and even his snaps have been hot and cold. While his play has steadied out over the past few weeks, it still hasn’t been anything to write home about.
Cole has a contract bonus due right after the offseason begins. If he is on the roster and earns that bonus, the team will carry him for at least another season. He will need a great game this week to have a chance at sniffing that. Even if he does, it may be too little too late for the veteran center.