Thursday’s Finale Makes Justin Hunter Great Trade Bait

Turn out the lights, party’s over. If the Indianapolis Colts game is any indication, Sammie Coates has beat out Justin Hunter for one of the last wide receiver jobs. And it’s unlikely Hunter knocks off Darrius Heyward-Bey for the 6th spot given what Mike Tomlin has recently said about the value of special teams. Look at the fact Hunter played just two snaps in the all-important third game, compared to Coates’ 48 and DHB’s 14, and his time in Pittsburgh looks to be drawing to an end.

But his usefulness to the Steelers doesn’t have to end. The trading block has been buzzing in the NFL, several deals going down over the past 48 hours. The last, as of this writing at least, was Reggie Ragland getting sent from Buffalo to Kansas City for a pick. There’s also been several player-for-player deals, the New York Jets at the forefront for several of them.

That’s where Hunter comes in. Get him some burn in the finale vs Carolina, hope he makes some impact plays, and then try to deal him. The return won’t be much but it’ll be something. Something is better than nothing.

Hunter lasted awhile in free agency before the Steelers scooped him up, ostensibly as Martavis Bryant’s insurance policy. It might seem like that indicates no team would have interest now but if Lucas Crowley can fetch an NFL-caliber player, Hunter still has value. Injuries across the league and teams getting a better chance to evaluate their talent create opportunity for deals to get done.

Four scenarios.


Steelers trade Justin Hunter to the Saints for RB Travaris Cadet

Noting this one since it’s the original proposal I came up with before camp began. I am happier with Knile Davis than most people so Cadet isn’t someone you need to get, but I understand those who still aren’t happy with the third running back spot. Cadet isn’t making the roster and right now, is dealing with a minor injury. Hunter could be the team’s 5th WR. Senior scout Rick Reiprish was working for the Saints when Cadet was signed as a UDFA.


Steelers trade Justin Hunter to the Jets for NT Steve McLendon

Hello, old friend. The Jets have been one of the most active trading teams during camp. McLendon is a vet who carries a bigger salary than a team like the Jets want to deal with. They have nothing at receiver and it’s not impossible for Hunter to start Week One. McLendon would give the Steelers the option to move L.T. Walton back to defensive end, fixing up that last DE spot that they’re apparently still not happy with, and some of the best DL depth in the entire NFL.

Starters: Tuitt-Hargrave-Heyward
Backups: Alualu-McLendon-Walton

Heck, I could coach that unit up to a successful season.


Steelers trade Justin Hunter to the Bears for CB Kyle Fuller

This one makes more sense on paper than I would actually support it (though I wouldn’t hate the move). The Steelers were big on Fuller coming out of school and they’ve traded for CBs they’ve liked before (see Gilbert, Justin). After an injury-marred start to his career, Fuller is beginning to show glimpses of why he was a first rounder.

The Bears just lost their top WR, Cameron Meredith, to a torn ACL, and need the help.


Steelers trade Justin Hunter to any team for a 7th round pick

Don’t think Hunter has any more draft pick value than a 7th rounder. Could go to any team willing to take a flier.

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