The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers will trade an offensive lineman at the end of roster cuts.
Explanation: The Steelers already traded one offensive lineman this offseason, sending Marcus Gilbert to the Cardinals for an extra sixth in the 2019 NFL Draft. They still have the potential to have some valuable depth that won’t make the roster at the end of the preseason this year.
Considering that they have recently been able to get draft picks back for Sammie Coates, Ross Cockrell, and Brad Wing, I think it’s reasonable to believe that they are in a similar enough position this offseason where they will have an abundance of talent at the offensive line position that they can turn into an additional resource.
The team has probably about a dozen or so linemen already who are shaping up to have the potential to be rosterable. They already waived one in R.J. Prince who was quickly picked up by the Baltimore Ravens.
Some of the potential names who may be on the outside looking in—especially if they can get something for him—later this year could include Jerald Hawkins, Zach Banner, and Patrick Morris. The latter two are veterans of at least two years, while Morris spent all of last season on the practice squad.
Some other factors to considier: offensive line talent around the league is not deep. The Steelers have a good reputation for the position. And perhaps Mike Munchak would want one of his guys. So the Denver Broncos would be an obvious target for a trading partner.
This is all assuming that pretty much everything goes right for the next several months, of course. Hawkins has more often than not been unable to even make it into the regular season. Plus he’s entering the final year of his deal. Even if he shows up halfway decent, they would be lucky to get a late seventh for him, or to swap their seventh for a sixth.
Others like Banner and Morris have already been subject to being claimed by other teams without it happening. They would have to show real growth, to the point where they might as well make the roster, for somebody to want to trade for them.
Then there’s the fact that Shaun Sarrett is still at least in part something of a wildcard. He worked directly with Munchak, but they was him and Munchak together. Now he’s on his own.