6 Ideal Trade Scenarios for Pittsburgh Steelers to Pursue This Offseason
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that is not known for making headlines in the offseason. That is particularly true when it comes to the trade market.
Salary-cap issues aside, acquiring talent in the NFL typically requires a team to part ways with its valuable draft picks. That is not an asset that a general manager—including the Steelers' Kevin Colbert—will necessarily want to give up with an upcoming draft deep with talent.
Instead, Colbert should explore the option of trading veterans whom he plans on releasing. Rather than lose them for nothing, he can at least add a late-round draft choice. It has not been a common practice for the Steelers, but it has been something they have done in recent memory.
In 2010, the Steelers shipped Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets for a fifth-round draft pick. They would eventually trade that selection to the Arizona Cardinals for Bryant McFadden and a sixth-round choice, which turned out to be Antonio Brown.
At the time the trade may not have seemed like much, but over time it proved to be a tremendous move for the Steelers. Can—or should—Colbert work this type of magic again?
Here is a look at five ideal trade scenarios for the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason.
Ben Roethlisberger Trade Rumors
Roethlisberger adamantly denied these rumors as did team President Art Rooney II in a brief statement he released on Steelers.com.
A strong finish to the 2013 season put these rumors on hold, but they have reignited with a report by Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com that the Steelers may not be willing to sign Roethlisberger to a long-term extension. If a deal were to be made, the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals were listed as two possible destinations.
These two teams make perfect sense. Houston is a quarterback away from getting right back into contention, while going to Arizona would reunite Roethlisberger with his former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. But how likely is a deal for either team?
It is unlikely that the Texans would be willing to part with the top choice in the draft for Roethlisberger, and anything that doesn’t include at least one first-round selection is not worth enough. Meanwhile, Arizona selects 20th in the first round, so its draft selection does not carry as much weight as a top-10 selection would.
In fact, any potential deal that does not allow the Steelers to get a franchise quarterback in return is not an option.
Given their assets, it is unlikely that the Texans or Cardinals could provide the Steelers an opportunity to find a new franchise quarterback—particularly via the draft. Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback who is still one of the best in the league, and the Steelers would need a premium return for him in any potential trades.
As a result, this is one trade scenario that should not happen under any circumstances. Roethlisberger has another four or five years of good football left, and his presence on the Steelers puts them in position to compete each and every week.
Pittsburgh cannot and should not trade away their best player. It would set the franchise back years as it tries to find a replacement.
Ike Taylor for Late-Round Draft Pick
Ike Taylor is on the downside of his career and is on the hook for $11.942 million against the salary cap in 2014. That is simply too much money for a cornerback his age and especially too much for one that doesn’t intercept the ball.
It has become clear that if he is going to stay with the Steelers, Taylor will have to reduce his salary for the upcoming season or be released.
In an interview with Fox Sports, Taylor said that he wants to retire a Steeler and all but indicated that he would take a pay cut to do so (h/t to Scott Brown of ESPN.com).
Another option that the Steelers could explore would be to work out a deal to trade Taylor. They would have to find a new No. 2 cornerback, but William Gay could fill in if need be.
A potential trade partner would be the Arizona Cardinals. They are in need of an upgrade at cornerback to help solidify their defensive backfield.
Financial details would have to be worked out with Taylor’s contract, but it could be a good fit. Head coach Bruce Arians has a connection with Taylor from his days in Pittsburgh, and he can help fill in the hole at cornerback opposite of Patrick Peterson. It could be a move that helps aid the Cardinals as they try to make a run at the NFC West title.
While the Steelers would lose one of their top two cornerbacks, they would get a late-round draft pick in addition to salary-cap relief. That will provide them with more flexibility as they try to get younger on defense and build depth.
Trade LaMarr Woodley
The status of LaMarr Woodley will be one of the top storylines for the Steelers this offseason.
Woodley has spent nearly as much time on the bench as he has on the field in recent seasons, and as a result, his production has fallen well below his contract. With a cap value of $13.59 million in 2014, he may have seen his last days in Pittsburgh.
Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette seems to believe that Woodley will be gone at some point this offseason. That is disappointing given all that the Steelers have invested in him.
Ideally, it would be beneficially if the Steelers could work out all of the details and trade Woodley this offseason. However, this would be particularly difficult as explained by Dale Lolley of the Observer-Reporter:
"A trade would have to involve a team willing to take on Woodley’s future salary, something that could be difficult considering teams know the Steelers’ current cap situation."
Any return that the Steelers could get for Woodley would be an added bonus, but this scenario is a long shot. As unlikely as it may be, the front office must explore every option with Woodley.
Trade Maurkice Pouncey for Mid-Round Draft Pick
With three Pro Bowl appearances and three Associated Press All-Pro selections in four seasons, Maurkice Pouncey would be one of the last players the Steelers should trade.
Pouncey is entering the final year of his rookie deal and will be looking for a big payday after the 2014 season. The Steelers may not be willing to open up the checkbook given his injury history.
Throughout his brief career, Pouncey has struggled with ankle injuries and missed 15 games last season with a torn ACL and MCL. Besides durability questions, the quality of his play has been an issue as of late.
Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated had Pouncey listed as his most overrated center prior to the start of the 2013 season.
Both Fernando Velasco and Cody Wallace played well in place of Pouncey last season and come at a much cheaper price tag.
Pouncey’s value wouldn’t be as high as it would if he was coming off another All-Pro season, but as a young, athletic lineman, he would command solid value on the trade market.
Trade Second-Round Pick for Josh Gordon
In a recent chat, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said that the Steelers have indicated to Ben Roethlisberger that they would select a tall receiver early in the draft.
While that could be a smoke screen, it should not be a surprise. He has asked for a tall receiver in the past, and you would have to assume things would be no different now.
But rather than go for an unproven commodity in the draft, why not go for gold and get the best receiver available—Josh Gordon.
Gordon exploded onto the scene last season with over 1,600 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He was also rumored to be on the trade block early last season.
Things may have changed since then, but remember, this is the Cleveland Browns that the Steelers would be dealing with.
The two teams exchanged draft picks last season, so not making a deal because they are division rivals is not out of the question. However, this one would be quite a bit more significant.
Pittsburgh would have to give up at least a high draft pick and a player or a lower pick to get Gordon, but it would be worth it. At 6’3” he would provide Roethlisberger with a tall target with big-play potential. There isn't a second-round selection in this draft that could make the same impact for the Steelers that Gordon would.
The odds of this deal ever going down are slim to none, but when discussing ideal trade possibilities this offseason, it is certainly one worth discussing.
Trade Down in the Draft
Possibly the best option for the Steelers this offseason would be to trade down in the draft. Kevin Colbert recently told reports that this year’s draft is the deepest he’s seen in 30 years (h/t Scott Brown of ESPN.com).
The Steelers should do all that they can to maximize on this depth and trade down in the first or second round.
According to the NFL Draft Value Chart from Ourlads.com, Pittsburgh’s first-round selection carries a value of 1,050 points. That means trading down five spots could net the Steelers an extra third-round pick, while dropping 10 spots could mean another second-round pick.
That would still keep the Steelers in position to select one of the top players on their draft board which figures to include Mike Evans, Marqise Lee, Louis Nix, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor, Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert.
The last time the Steelers traded down in the first round, they dropped three spots and picked up an extra fourth and sixth in the process. They would use their top pick on nose tackle Casey Hampton. A similar move could be ideal to pick up nose tackle Louis Nix in this year's draft.
According to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, the Steelers will receive a third- and fifth-round compensatory pick for losing Mike Wallace and Keenan Lewis, respectively. With a trade down, the Steelers could pick up another early selection which could give them seven in the first five rounds.
Extra selections allow Colbert to take advantage of the depth in this year’s draft as he continues to rebuild the roster into a playoff contender.