The Pittsburgh Steelers made it four consecutive years yesterday in which they have acquired a player via trade late in the preseason who would go on to be featured on their 53-man roster. This year’s new face is wide receiver Ryan Switzer, a second-year player whose primary responsibility will be as a return man.
Let’s hope that the team’s recent past will not be indicative of the fortunes that they will face with their latest acquisition. While they have not given up a great deal of value in the trades that they have made to acquire players over the past four years, they have also gotten very little in return.
Let’s recap that brief history right now.
Back in 2015, the Steelers brought in two new players, first acquiring cornerback Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles for a conditional fifth-round pick that remained a fifth-round pick. He emerged as their starting slot defender late in the year and into the playoffs, but departed in free agency the following year and has been injury-plagued since.
Even worse was the trade for kicker Josh Scobee, which cost them a sixth-round pick. The former Pro Bowl kicker missed four of eight field goal attempts in the four games in which he played with the Steelers, in addition to an extra point attempt. He missed two potential game-winners in the fourth game, after which he was released.
The 2016 season saw the addition of former first-round cornerback Justin Gilbert, a player the team coveted coming out of college but who had failed to come even close to living up to his pre-draft evaluation. He made it through one season, playing just a handful of snaps, before he was released. He also cost a sixth-round pick.
Pittsburgh again added two players via trade last year, first trading for tight end Vance McDonald and a fifth-round pick in exchange for a fourth-round pick. His first year with the team was plagued by injuries, and so has his second, so far, but he has the most potential of any other player added via trade. The jury is still out on him since he’s at least on the team and projected to start when healthy.
The other player added that year was safety J.J. Wilcox, who came along with a seventh-round pick and was had for a sixth-rounder. He opened the season spelling an injured Mike Mitchell and even started a game early on, but was then demoted behind Robert Golden and ended up as a healthy scratch by season’s end. He was released after the team drafted two safeties in 2018.
So of five players acquired via trade over the past three seasons, only one remains with the team, and that lone player is the only one projected to spend more than one year in Pittsburgh. The highest cost of any of the moves was a fifth-round pick, but still, they ultimately have gotten little to show for it.