The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Will the Steelers manage to trade one of their wide receivers during the preseason?
The Steelers have 11 wide receivers right now on their 90-man roster. Six of them were on the 53-man roster just last year, a seventh is returning from suspension, last on the roster in 2016. Yet another is a rookie second-round draft pick, and a ninth player still has been rostered on other teams for the past four years.
In other words, there are going to be some rosterable players who will not make the Steelers’ 53-man roster in 2017, barring some unexpected collapse or extreme rash of injuries. And whenever this has been brought up, it has inevitably sparked a rash of debates about whether the team should make a trade, and whether or not it is realistic.
Now, the Steelers don’t trade their players away very often, and usually when they do, it involves extenuating circumstances, like when they traded Santonio Holmes for a fifth-round draft pick. He was due to serve a suspension to start the season and was going to be due a huge contract they would not have been able to afford.
But I do think there is one type of trade that is very possible, and it bears a likeness to a 2013 trade the Steelers were a part of. Late that August, the team traded luxury outside linebacker Adrian Robinson for running back Felix Jones, who served as the second running back and kick returner for much of that season.
Obviously, neither player made much of an impact for either team—Robinson was in fact released and bounced around several teams—but the model is sound. Two teams with an excess of talent at a particular position swap players that they know is not going to make their 53-man roster.
It’s a low-risk, low-reward trade, but it’s still preferable to simply having bulk that can’t be used. If they can trade Cobi Hamilton for a low-string safety or tight end, for example—perhaps even a running back—it certainly wouldn’t hurt, and it’s a trade that is well within the realm of possibility.