Once again, general manager Kevin Colbert and the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to treat their draft acquisitions as ‘house money’, and feel free to use it in a much looser fashion than they ever do their natural draft picks.
So far this offseason, the Steelers gained third- and fifth-round picks for trading Antonio Brown, a sixth-round pick for trading Marcus Gilbert, a sixth-round pick for trading Jerald Hawkins, and a fifth-round pick for trading Joshua Dobbs.
The picks from the first two trades were for 2019, and they utilized those picks, but the third-round pick retrieved for Brown both emboldened and enabled them to make the move up for Devin Bush in the first round, as they gave up their second-round pick and a 2020 third-round pick, the latter of which they expect to replace in the form of a compensatory pick for Le’Veon Bell.
Last week, as part of the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade, the Steelers sent a 2020 fifth-round pick and a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins. They gained picks in those rounds from the Dobbs and Hawkins trades, though the fifth was conditional.
Now they’ve sent their other 2020 fifth-round pick, the one they got from the Jacksonville Jaguars (non-conditional, presumably) for Dobbs, to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for fourth-year tight end Nick Vannett, a response to the injury to Vance McDonald.
Having now traded their first-, third-, and two fifth-round picks, the Steelers are currently entering the 2020 NFL draft shaping up to have their second-round pick, a compensatory pick in the third, two selections in the fourth (having gotten one from the Dolphins), in addition to sixth- and seventh-round selections.
And for that, they gave up Hawkins and Dobbs, and have gotten back Fitzpatrick, who is expected to be a long-term starter at free safety, and Vannett, who at least for the time being can’t be counted upon as anything but depth on a one-year rental, as he will be an unrestricted free agent in March.
While these moves were made a near necessity due to injury, the Steelers’ uncharacteristic wheeling-and-dealing nature this year was driven in part by the fact that they had been able to gain a surplus of selections by moving expendable talent.
That decision is being widely questioned in light of the fact that it comes amidst a season most on the outside are already viewing as a lost cause with Ben Roethlisberger already on injured reserve. However, the Steelers are clearly demonstrating that they remain committed to winning week in and week out, no matter the circumstances.