Due to uncommon need, the Pittsburgh Steelers front office took to an unusual path for the organization during the preseason period by making multiple trades in order to secure depth for their team, a type of roster building that they have largely avoided over the years, at least in the modern era.
Given the current results of the two trades that they ended up making, it’s tempting to view that as the explanation as to why they so rarely engage in such personnel moves, though that would be a far too simplistic answer to a scenario that undoubtedly must be viewed on a case-by-case basis.
At the moment, however, it is clear that the Steelers trades have not exactly worked out in their favor, with one far more imbalanced than the other.
The machinations began after the team learned that their rookie second-round cornerback, Senquez Golson, would require season-ending surgery for a torn labrum. They did little outside of the draft to address the position during the offseason, so they made the move to acquire another one via trade.
Giving up a fifth-round draft pick to the Eagles to acquire Brandon Boykin, the fourth-year author of seven career interceptions has been unable to see the field for most of the season, despite Cortez Allen missing the past three games.
The 5’9” cornerback looked to be moving into the nickel role after the first game, but a groin injury kept him out of practice as he was passed over for second-year Ross Cockrell, who was acquired only two weeks earlier.
Boykin rotated in for two series at the right outside cornerback spot with Antwon Blake during that game, but those 11 snaps were the only planned snaps that he has had in four weeks. He played two snaps the following week during a medical timeout that took Blake off the field.
In the meantime, Cockrell has played well, picking off a pass and recovering a fumble in the last game. While the trade is certainly not a waste as of yet—he still provides valuable depth in case of injury—many are disappointed in him not seeing more playing time, with his greatest obstacle being William Gay moving to the slot in sub-packages.
The other player that the Steelers acquired via trade is already off the roster, that being kicker Josh Scobee, who lasted four games before being released after missing four field goal attempts in addition to an extra point attempt, for a total of 13 potential points taken off the board.
The acquisition of Scobee only became necessary after the team was forced to place not one, but two kickers on injured reserve, of course, but they clearly believed that they had found a legitimate solution, giving up a sixth-round pick and agreeing to take on $2.5 million of his 2015 base salary owed.
The Steelers are still on the hook for the draft pick, as well as the full total of that $2.5 million, which serves as a reminder that the front office did not come upon this move lightly. But while the trade looks like a disaster in hindsight, the 12-year veteran’s minor implosion could not be predicted, and doesn’t necessary damn the move from the start.