The positive outlook for the Steelers is the production shown without Watt
One thing you cannot deny in the game of football is production, no matter how a player gets it. Highsmith had an amazing performance in 2022 that showed that he can be a solid contributor on defense no matter if Watt is on the field or not. That is something that the unit desperately needs because they seem to crumble when Watt is out of the lineup.
For one reason or another, there is little success for the Steelers as a team when Watt is not able to suit up. Highsmith was able to still produce at a good rate while Watt was away, and the team saw that as an advantage. They need players that can still find ways to produce when Watt is out of the lineup and adjust to their circumstances like Highsmith was able to accomplish.
Last season was a coming out party for Highsmith after two years of a growing role on this club. He was able to produce high numbers that rivaled some of the best pass rushers in the NFL. He did all of that without Watt in the lineup for nearly half the season. Even when Watt returned, he was not at the same level that he is normally at.
Dupree was never able to find different ways to produce without Watt in the lineup and that was a red flag to the black and gold. That is what made him more of an expendable piece for this team. Highsmith has done the opposite despite only having one solid year of production. Now that Watt will be coming back this year with a full bill of healthy, those two should be one of the best tandems in the league.