During the Pittsburgh Steelers’ post-selection press conference last night, General Manager Kevin Colbert pretty much explicitly said that their trading Antonio Brown was what enabled them to make the trade that they did yesterday that allowed them to acquire Michigan inside linebacker Devin Bush.
Without that prior trade, he said, “we would not have made this trade today. I’m very comfortable in saying that. Because we would not have had enough picks to do it”. They entered the day with 10 total draft picks, including two in the third round and two extra late-round picks as well.
Sending Brown to the Oakland Raiders did not net them the capital that they were originally hoping for, but they ultimately got back high picks in the third and fifth rounds. Having three picks for Day Two made them comfortable in giving one of them up to go get Bush.
But if Brown is owed a thank you for helping to make this move happen, then so does Le’Veon Bell, because the fact that the team expects to get a significant compensatory pick in 2020 for his signing with the New York Jets also played a role in enabling the team to get the trade done.
Colbert made it pretty clear that they have some lines when it comes to trades that they do almost everything in their power not to cross. They don’t want to part with a second-round pick unless they have something else that comes close to replacing it. They don’t want to have fewer than two selections on day two.
That’s where Bell’s pick comes in. Reportedly, many of the teams in the top 10 who were looking to trade back wanted second- and third-round picks this year. The Steelers were unwilling to do that, leaving them with just one selection today. Knowing that they have a good chance of having three Day Two picks in 2020, however, they felt comfortable parting with that future pick to get yesterday’s deal done.
They also dealt their natural third-round pick in 2013 when they knew that they would get a third-round compensatory pick in 2014. They traded their 2014 natural third-round pick to acquire a fourth-round pick in 2013.
There is no getting around the fact that Pittsburgh lost two of the most accomplished skill position players in recent NFL history in Brown and Bell. But if there is a silver lining, it is that losing both of them indirectly helped them to acquire Bush.
Now it’s just up to Bush, and the Steelers, to make good on the potential that the deal possesses, which can only be realized by winning a Super Bowl.