Hello fellow brothers and sisters of TheSteelersFans. AskQuestionsLater here, bringing you my opinion on a possibility I have been pondering for some time now. Given the extensive injury history of Stephon Tuitt, many among the fanbase are disappointed in the former Notre Dame product for his inability to stay healthy. That said, one can make the case that the organization is the same. However, this writer believes that, through misfortune an oppurtunity has presented itself. What that is will be something that I will explain to the best of my ability today; a few things rather. Before we begin and, as always, a disclaimer; These written statements by the author do not reflect nor are shared opinions of members of TheSteelersFans Message Board, Staff Members and/or Site Administrator. Now with that out of the way, let us dive into how Tuitt could become the key player in all of this. First up, let us talk about the most important aspect of being a great player. One that is often forgotten and taken granted for by some; availability. Can't Make The Club In The Tub: Let us start off with Stephon Tuitt's contract that he received in 2017. Five years for $60 million. Again, he was worth that extension and that cannot be taken away from him. When Tuitt is healthy and consistent, as we saw early in the season, he is a disruptive force. However, keyword here is healthy. Since his rookie season, Stephon Tuitt has only managed to complete an entire 16 game season once; his rookie season being the irony of it all. This translates towards Tuitt being available to the team 81.3%; playing in 78 out of 96 total contests. While that number does sound impressive, bear in mind that Tuitt has been marred by a series of injuries along the way. Now, let us compare that to both Bud and Javon, staring with Javon. Of the 64 total games he has played in, Javon will have presumably played 63 total (factoring in all 16 of this season for those of you that are lost). This translates to being available 98.4%. Sub package player or otherwise, this number is impressive; 17.1% higher than Tuitts. As for Bud, his availability rate does surpass Tuitts by 6.2%; his being 87.5%. Now, why am I bringing up how health determines an extension first?! Well, apart from being a positive contribution to the team, the most important aspect of ANY player in Professional Team Based Sports is how available that player is. Far too often do some of us take that for granted; only to realize that without them being there with their teammates can have consequences; severity being a critical aspect here depending on whom the player is. For Tuitt, his impact was felt for his first three years of 2014 to 2016. 2017 onward though, not as much since the acquisition of Tyson Alualu and the continued growth of Javon Hargrave despite 2017 being a bit of a down season. As for Tuitt's impact vs. Bud, 2016 was even more unusual as Stephon had only half a sack more than Bud despite playing seven more games. Now of course, it can be stated that the 3-4 DE is not supposed to light up the stat sheet due to their role of mainly being a run stopping force. However, the Dick LeBeau days of that philosophy were long gone at the time. Comparing both Buds and Tuitts stats 2017 onward is a bit tricky given the difficult due to Bud'a positional switch from LOLB to ROLB. As such and sadly, we will not be doing a comparison here. However, these comparisons shown above do portray a pattern; the defense overall did not drop off talent wise as much from 2017 onward despite the absence of Stephon Tuitt. As such, having both Hargrave and Dupree more than just act as a failsafe, they act as a stabilizing force to prevent much downturn overall. Buggin' in, Buggin' in: The 2019 NFL Draft saw the Steelers draft Isaiah Buggs from the University of Alabama. Many, myself included thought that Isaiah would spell the beginning of the end for Daniel McCullers. Shockingly, it did not as Big Dan is still on the roster. That said, so is Buggs. However, Isaiah Buggs himself will be an indirect component for both Hargrave and Tuitt as Buggs is to likely serve as the succession plan behind Alualu considering he will be a UFA come 2021. I would assume that the plan is to have Buggs supplant Alualu before then. That said, Buggs is seeing action earlier than he should given Tuitt's injury. Given his very limited snap count, it is fair to question as to how or even why Isaiah would fit in this description. Again, the devil is in the details here. Tyson Alualu will be 33 next season. Who knows how well he will be by then?! Now and again, Free Agency starts before Training Camp; a much more ideal time to release Alualu but within that point, it would amount to nothing. However, thanks to Tuitt's absence, Isaiah is getting an extended look. Definitely not the extended look as one would expect but a look in live game action no less to see how well he will project come 2020. Overall though, how well Buggs will develop will play a role for Tuitt moving forward. Keep in mind that Isaiah Buggs has been shown he is capable of being an NFL Level Defensive Lineman like many of us saw in Preseason. His sample size is very small but the results have been encouraging despite the limited snap count. Now, given all that we know currently about Tuitt as a whole, there is no doubt he is a great player. However, we have seen another great player before our eyes in Hargrave. Bud Dupree is finally realizing his full potential and the results are bearing fruit. Add Alualu's steady play and Buggs development and one can see that Tuitt's impact has been missed but not as immense as once feared. Keep in mind this is the same defense that has operated without Tuitt since Week 6 has faced the likes of Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb and Marlon Mack and have held all three to under 100 yards. This statistic here leads to the highlight of this write up. Keeping Structure Requires A Restructure: As the title implies, the goal for the 2020 season is to keep both Dupree and Hargrave. Now, finances will be limited as per Sportrac, Pittsburgh has a little over $6 million in cap space available come 2020. There will likely be other players being restructed or even released at this time the same, one aspect should become an option; restructue the contract of Tuitt again. Yes, I do know that Tuitt has already done this in the 2019 Offseason. However, keep in mind he will be off the books come 2023. While I doubt they release Tuitt within that time frame, given his injury history, is it a safe bet to count on Tuitt when needed?! For me personally, I would say such an investment on damaged goods is high risk, high reward. Keep in mind this team already danced with these same set of circumstances indirectly via Morgan Burnett and LaDarius Green; players who had equally concerning injury woes at the time of their signing. Furthermore, Tuitt can not only assist the team but himself in doing so as 2020 is likely the final time in which Ben will be at his prime ever again. For the team to strike the proverbial iron while it is hot, some players will have to restructure to keep the current structure intact. Tuitt's is among the biggest despite the $3.5 Million the team receives back due in part to his extensive injury woes already and him not being a guaranteed bet on being available all 16 games in 2020. Final Thoughts: I know this sounds draconian to some as Tuitt has earned that second contract and is deserving of it. That said, Dupree's and Hargrave's development have essentially opened this door up although inadvertently. Given how much time is left with Ben, I conclude that we need to maximize the current corps we have so that a Championship run is possible in 2020. Closing Statements: Before we go, thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed! I do believe that Hargrave and Dupree can be kept around with some sacrifice by some. That said, some may have to sacrifice more than others. As such, the Steelers do have more leverage than Tuitt does due to this injury. I hope all can go well for that does mean a shot in 2020. Once again everyone, thank you for reading! Until time everyone, this is AskQuestionsLater saying so long! Go Steelers!!