The Pittsburgh Steelers made arguably the boldest move that they ever have in the draft late last month when they were willing to deal a 2019 second-round pick and a 2020 third-round pick to move from the 20th spot in the first round up to the 10th-overall selection in order to bring in Michigan inside linebacker Devin Bush, a player whom they clearly coveted and identified as a special talent.
According to Peter King, that is precisely how high they needed to trade up in order to land Bush, because he was told that the Denver Broncos—the team with whom they traded—were prepared to draft him had they not worked out a deal with Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert to trade back.
On late Friday while the second round was underway, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat writer Gerry Dulac reported that the Steelers in fact attempt to trade up even higher than the 10th-overall selection to get Bush, noting that they spoke with the Detroit Lions and the Buffalo Bills, who held the eighth- and ninth-overall selections, respectively.
When Colbert appeared on The Fan yesterday, he was asked about the report that they in fact tried to move up even higher to get Bush, but he didn’t necessarily give a clear answer, offering that the team speaks with every organization and that fact can be misconstrued.
“Well, we contact every team, one through 32, and talk to everybody and just get ideas about what they’re realistically looking for”, he said. “Obviously the people with one, two, three, four, that’s very rich to go up in there, but really you talk to in reference to maybe their interest in coming up from the second round back to your first. So I think it’s fair to say we touched base with every team, but we understand there are certain ranges that are not going to be possible to go to, so I think sometimes that gets misinterpreted when you hear about us talking to a team that was maybe picking first or second”.
Of course, we weren’t talking about trading all the way up to number one or number two, but rather one or two spots higher than where they actually landed. Might they have sincerely tried to move up that high? Certainly, and I’m sure they had discussions with the Lions and Bills, the latter with whom they had already agreed to terms in principle on an Antonio Brown trade earlier this offseason before the deal went south.
All of that is water under the bridge, of course, because they did find a partner to trade up with to land the prospect they were hoping to draft, and they gave up what they gave up. From the sounds of it, they were very much at the line in the sand they had drawn about what would be too pricey, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the Lions and Bills’ asking price was too rich, even if just one or two picks higher.