The Steelers don’t have a ton of holes to fill heading into the 2020 season, as they return the fifth-most starting snaps from 2019 of any NFL team.
On a conference call with members of the Pittsburgh media on Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin gave his first indication as to who will fill those roles.
Tomlin said that Matt Feiler will get the first shot at being the starting left guard, while Tyson Alualu will start at nose tackle.
Alualu, 33, is entering his third season with the team. The 6-foot-3, 304-pound veteran spent his first three seasons as a valuable backup at defensive end, making 12 starts over three years in the stead of injured starters Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.
The 2019 season was his among most productive. Filling in after Tuitt was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Playing in all 16 games and making five starts, Alualu had 41 total tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack.
Alualu is entering the final season of a two-year, $5.75 million contract extension.
Feiler, 27, made 16 starts last season for the Steelers at right tackle in his first full season as a starter after filling in to make 10 starts at that spot in 2018. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Bloomsburg grad played guard previously, getting into five games and making one start at right guard in 2017 and playing one game in his first season with the team in 2016.
Feiler recently re-signed with the team by inking his second-round restricted free agent tender for the 2020 season. He will be an unrestricted free agent heading into 2021.
Moving Feiler to left guard will create a vacancy at right tackle, with 22-year-old Chukwuma Okorafor and 26-year-old Zach Banner likely vying for that spot. Feiler’s move to left guard will also solidify that free-agent signing Stefen Wisniewski will be the team’s top interior backup.