Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert took an undeserved beating Wednesday from a large chunk of the fan base for his decision to trade for Arizona Cardinals tackle Levi Brown. Now that all of the facts of the deal are in, I will give you my thoughts.
First, the Steelers only have a conditional draft pick and a base salary of $840,000 tied up in Brown because they were not forced to restructure his 2013 base salary in order to get cap compliant. That alone makes this deal a win for the Steelers.
Second, they now have a former first-round draft pick that played well at the end of the 2011 season. Brown is clearly not the same tackle that he was prior to suffering his triceps injury in August of 2012, but if they can fix his technical flaws, they have stolen a starter. That’s a big “if”, but the jury is out right now.
Third, for all we know, the Steelers might want to look at just how position flexible Brown really is. Perhaps the team is concerned a little more than they let on about Ramon Foster after he suffered a pectoral sprain Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Foster won’t need surgery, but they have to worry about the injury moving forward until it is fully healed.
In fact, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and General Manager Steve Keim both said back in late February that Brown could possibly make the move inside.
“He’s a talent,” Arians said at the time. “I don’t think he’d have any problem playing guard.”
Keim also didn’t rule out a potential move at the time.
“The fact Bruce [Arians] wants our five best offensive linemen out there means Levi could potentially move inside to guard,” Keim said. “That just depends on the combination of players we either sign in free agency. Looking at it on the horizon I don’t anticipate that happening, but you never want to say never.”
Fourth, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley knows all about Brown as he was the Cardinals offensive coordinator in 2007 when Brown was drafted fifth overall.
It might take Brown a week or two to pick up the Steelers system and it is important to remember that he won’t practice with the team until Monday. With that being the case, the Steelers might just start Kelvin Beachum at left tackle against the New York Jets and try to have Brown ready to serve as his backup.
Having a veteran like Brown on the roster will also help push Mike Adams, who very well could be inactive against the Jets if Brown dresses.
In conclusion, there is nothing wrong with this trade. It has nothing but upside right now when you consider all of the reasons above. If he is indeed washed up as a tackle and can’t move inside, the Steelers will release him after the season.
Colbert made a very low risk move with the intentions of making the team better and he should at least be applauded for the effort. He could have just sat around and did nothing.