Here are two things we know.
The Pittsburgh Steelers normally add one defensive back from outside the organization each year. Dave Bryan recently broke it down, recalling a history four years in the making.
And we know the Steelers were able to complete a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
Could the same happen again in 2016?
Yes, this is just some offseason fodder. But I don’t write these things unless there is some logical connection to base off of. Eric Rowe, the Eagles second round pick in 2015, has fallen out of favor under the teams’ new regime. Yesterday, NJ.com named Rowe as one of ten players on the bubble. They write:
“Rowe won’t be cut. Rowe could, however, be traded, as he didn’t seem to be in the coach’s plans during spring practices.”
The Steelers brought Rowe in for a visit on April 21st, the same day they brought in Doran Grant. Grant, of course, would be drafted in the 4th round.
So knowing the Eagles may get rid of him and recognizing the Steelers had a lot of interest just a year ago, it’s not impossible to think a trade could take place. Maybe, like last year, an injury would have to take place. Or maybe the Steelers want to venture out and really secure promising depth.
It’s already looking like Mike Tomlin wants to run a defense that presses more often. There’s a reason why Artie Burns was drafted. Ross Cockrell has already said it himself. So Rowe, just under 6’1 and 205 pounds with with decent length, would make sense. He has experience at corner and safety, similar to Sean Davis. Yes, Davis’ presence would be a great argument against Rowe but those are the types of players the team is gravitating towards. The more, the better.
Rowe doesn’t solve the team’s lack of veteran depth in the secondary but he played over 500 snaps last season. 502 more than Doran Grant. Another 173 snaps came on special teams. His size and speed (4.45) would make him an asset running down kicks and punts. Rowe struggled last year but playing corner, when he had more experience at safety, it’s to be expected. The Steelers took Davis – they understand the transition.
Under his rookie contract, Rowe is dirt cheap, a cap hit that never exceeds more than $1.55 million for the next three years. Starting with this upcoming draft, teams are allowed to trade compensatory picks, opening things up a bit more for Kevin Colbert, who has already said he expects “multiple” of them.
That was in response to the reports of the team trading up into the 5th round – something that never came to fruition – but the same logic then applies now.
“When I was talking about trying to get another pick in this draft, we would’ve traded a pick from next year’s draft because we anticipate getting two or three [compensatory] picks. So if you’re pretty sure you’re going to get those, why not trade one to help us this year?”
I don’t know what it would take to get Rowe. New regimes trying to ship a player don’t possess a ton of leverage, everyone knowing he’s on the chopping block. I think a 4th round pick would do the trick, worst case scenario. While, obviously, the Steelers don’t have any compensation picks and we don’t know what they will get – that will largely be dependent on how this season plays out – we’ve seen the Eagles accept theoretical compensation before in their trade up to secure the #2 overall pick this year.
Listen, I’m not screaming from the rooftops that the team needs to make this move. For 2016, I don’t think it makes much of a difference either way. But there are some tea leaves to read and the move makes some common sense. I love Ross Ventrone but give me the choice of carrying six corners with Rowe as that 6th guy and I think I do it.
Just something to monitor in camp and as we get close to the cutdown date.