Every year, fans demand that the Pittsburgh Steelers make this or that trade to improve their roster, and they do so with a false assumption that they are a front office that is averse to handling trades. The fact of the matter is that they have had their fair share of trades, but they simply have not done well for them for the most part—at least not until you go back to 2010.
Let’s start with the most recent trade, though. The Steelers just traded a 2018 sixth-round draft pick for failed first-round cornerback Justin Gilbert, whom the Browns have given up on after two seasons. While the value of each trade is to be determined via its end results, Pittsburgh’s recent history of trades do not bode well for the success of Gilbert in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers made three trades just last season. They first traded a conditional fifth-round draft pick that could have escalated to a fourth-round pick for cornerback Brandon Boykin. He struggled to see the field for the first two thirds or so of the season before getting onto the field, and he bounced around this offseason, ultimately placed on injured reserve, after learning of medical concerns that the Steelers revealed.
They also gave up a sixth-round pick for kicker Josh Scobee. While he got touchbacks, he missed four of his 10 field goal attempts in four games, and he also missed an extra point try. He was quickly released. They did recoup of seventh-round pick for Brad Wing, but this is more about players being traded for, rather than away.
There were no trades in 2014, but they did trade a conditional pick for tackle Levi Brown in 2013. He promptly got injured and never played, and thus they didn’t end up losing anything, but they traded for him to contribute, and that is the point—they go no contributions from the trade.
That year, they also traded a 2014 third-round draft pick for a 2014 fourth-round draft pick for safety Shamarko Thomas. Thomas was supposed to start last year, but he proved unable to be trusted, and at this point he appears resigned to primarily a special teams contributor.
They traded Adrian Robinson for running back Felix Jones, who was a very mediocre kick returner, and not much better as a running back, in 2013 as well.
The Steelers gave up a sixth-round draft pick to move up 10 spots to draft nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. He went on a drunken rampage, driving drunk, damaging many cars, and more.
Finally, all the way back in 2010, the Steelers dumped former first-round wide receiver Santonio Holmes for a fifth-round draft pick. They turned around and traded that pick for Bryant McFadden and a sixth-round pick. The sixth-rounder ended up being Antonio Brown. They also traded a seventh-round pick for quarterback Byron Leftwich.
The year before, they also traded out of the second round to add a pair of third-round picks. With their three third-round picks, they picked up three solid players in Kraig Urbik, Mike Wallace, and Keenan Lewis. So basically, really the only time they’re good at trading is when they trade back in the draft and don’t have a specific target.