This has certainly been an odd, eventful, interesting, and, it would be fair to say, disappointing time for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’ve lost two kickers, their All-Pro center for most of the season, had two other top offensive stars suspended for two and four games, and their second-round pick is already on injured reserve.
As a result of a couple of those injuries, we have seen the Steelers take some unusual steps, making a pair of trades since training camp opened to exchange future draft picks for current players.
Early in camp, the Steelers trades a fifth-round pick that could be elevated to a fourth-round pick with a reasonable playing time escalator in order to acquire cornerback Brandon Boykin, who should at some point in the season take over the nickel back role.
The move to acquire Boykin undoubtedly strengthens the roster, and he has the potential to even start, but it was a move made almost out of necessity when the team learned that rookie cornerback Senquez Golson would miss the season with a torn labrum that required surgery.
The Steelers lost veteran kicker Shaun Suisham on a tackle attempt in the opening preseason game, tearing his ACL on his non-kicking knee. They replaced him with another veteran, Garrett Hartley, who had served as the kicker for the past three games.
But Hartley suffered a hamstring injury that was obviously serious enough to last into the season, resulting in the Steelers placing him on injured reserve after acquiring yet another veteran, Josh Scobee, for a sixth-round pick.
As part of the acquisition of Scobee, however, Pittsburgh was put on the hook for $2.5 million worth of his 2015 salary, even with the Jaguars pitching in nearly $1 million. But it was a move they felt it was worth making.
Complicating matters is the fact that both Boykin and Scobee are in the final years of their contracts, so these acquisitions may well end up being one-year rentals unless they are able to re-sign them next year. Neither player would be well served by signing an extension now, so they won’t.
It is unlike the front office to start handing away future draft picks. Already, they may be down to selections in just the first, second, third, fifth, and seventh rounds. A few beat writers have suggested that the Steelers will want to try to recoup a pick as a result of their losses.
It is certainly a sound theory, though their history far favors trading picks for players than vice versa. And I’m not sure that Pittsburgh has many pieces worth trading, at least for the price that they would receive.
A player like Sean Spence might have the most to dangle, having had extensive starting experience last season. But he obviously has a serious medical history with his knee, and is in the final year of his contract. Vince Williams also has a limited history and would likely not command much.
Outside of the inside linebacker position, the Steelers don’t exactly have much of an abundance elsewhere, especially with the final roster cuts imminent. There’s no doubt that the front office would love to recoup their lost picks, but it’s difficult to see how they would manage that. At least not until draft time.