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 got fair to good value in their trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Explanation: The Steelers traded away their solitary first-round pick for the first time since 1967 in order to acquire second-year safety Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins. Fitzpatrick, 18 games into his professional career, was the 11th-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Steelers also traded their 2020 fifth and 2021 sixth-round picks while getting back 2020 fourth- and 2021 seventh-round picks from Miami.
The Steelers got a first-round pick for a first-round pick. That’s the value. It’s a perfect balance. Fitzpatrick is the best defensive back that the team has been able to acquire at a young age since perhaps Troy Polamalu. He might not have quite taken the NFL by storm yet, but let’s talk after the end of his third season. This is a long-term investment.
Add in the fact that the team was going to be in the market for a high-end safety in 2020 anyway, perhaps even in the first round. And the fact that they needed a free safety right now, with Sean Davis injured. Davis would be gone next year. They already have his replacement in Fitzpatrick, who’s going to be a plug-and-play guy from the word ‘go’. You couldn’t ask for a cleaner process.
While they may well have taken care of a probable 2020 need, we still have no idea if quarterback is going to be such a need. And if Mason Rudolph doesn’t look the part this year, it’s entirely possible that the Steelers will come to the realization that they need yet another quarterback, and yet don’t have the resources to go and get one.
Even with the potential for a high first-round pick, which will now belong to the Dolphins. There’s a reason the Steelers don’t trade first-round picks, and a reason they’ve been so successful for so long as well. They’re stepping out of their box on this one, but that box has been good to them. If they don’t have a quarterback, it doesn’t matter who their safety is.