Steelers’ Meager Trade Haul Offers Draft Flexibility To Move Up

You’re going to have to bear with us today because, understandably, we’re going to be talking an awful lot about Antonio Brown, and probably will continue to do so for another day or two. When you have a player that means that much to your organization, both currently and historically, it tends to draw a lot of attention, especially when you orchestrate your departure in so spectacular a fashion—blonde mustache and all.

Brown will soon be sent from the Pittsburgh Steelers, after nine years, to the Oakland Raiders, and for their troubles they will get to wield an unwieldy $21 million-plus dead money charge for the privilege of not having him on their 53-man roster.

In exchange, they will get the Raiders’ third- and fifth-round picks, the 66th– and 142nd-overall draft choices. They sent their natural fifth-round pick to the Raiders already for Ryan Switzer, so they only have one pick in that round, but they now have two third-round picks, and three sixth-round picks (one from Oakland as part of the Switzer deal and one from the Marcus Gilbert trade), giving them 10 draft choices in total.

So what exactly does Brown contribute to their net total? What it does is give them flexibility. As I suggested earlier in the day, my guess is that the Raiders probably would have given up a second-rounder had it not been so high (they hold the 35th-overall pick), but combining 66 and 142 is more or less equivalent in value to a mid- to late-second-round pick.

In terms of value, in a vacuum, it’s crumbs for the number one wide receiver in the league. But in a market in which only one team was bidding by the end, for a player who is emotionally erratic with very high contract demands and who has vowed to be toxic if not dealt, it was really making the best of a bad situation.

The Steelers now have four draft selections in the top 90, and they also have ammunition later in the draft with two additional sixth-rounders that they can use to move around, including up. For once, perhaps, they will actually be movers on the draft board.

At the start of his career, Brown was the back-end part of a trade with the Arizona Cardinals that sent the Steelers’ fifth-round pick over in exchange for cornerback Bryant McFadden and the sixth-round pick that they used to draft the SMU product. They originally acquired that fifth-round pick from the New York Jets by dealing them Santonio Holmes.

Now adding a third and fifth to their 2019 draft pool, he gives them the flexibility to move around that they otherwise likely would not have had, knowing that they need to add talent and can’t afford to reduce their draft pick total. If that flexibility gives them the ability to make a trade upward to land a player they otherwise would not have been able to draft, that will have to be factored into the value of the deal.

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