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: Quarterback is the only position the Steelers would consider trading up for in the first round.
Explanation: The Steelers traded up twice during Kevin Colbert’s relatively short tenure with Bill Cowher, first for Troy Polamalu and then Santonio Holmes, in the first round (they also traded down and still got Casey Hampton). It took over a decade before Mike Tomlin would move in the first round for the first time, trading up 10 spots up to 10 to get Devin Bush in 2019. With a likely comfortable number of compensatory picks coming in 2022, a trade-up is likely at least on the table, but would they trade up for anything other than a quarterback?
When the Steelers have trade up in the past, it has been to land a position that they really needed at the time. That was certainly the case two years ago when they did so for Devin Bush. The Steelers know quarterback is a big need, if not in 2021, then in 2022. Nothing else compares, and they have allowed linemen like Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro to fall to them in the past rather than moving up.
Quarterback is the one position more than any other where you have ‘your guy’, and if your guy is there, you go and get him, because you know that he can drive the fortunes of your franchise for the next decade or two. A center isn’t going to do that, and they can be found later on. Not quarterbacks.
Whether Roethlisberger is their quarterback in 2022 or somebody else, they’re going to need offensive linemen. If they see their next Maurkice Pouncey and he’s within striking distance for a reasonable cost, or if Najee Harris is slipping and they expect somebody else to jump ahead of them, it would be foolish not to pull the trigger.
The Steelers aren’t going to be players in free agency, but they will lose many, and they could yield as many as four compensatory picks, with two third-rounders. While they won’t be official until next year, by the time the draft rolls around, they’ll have a good idea of what to expect, and they’ve already set precedent in this regard when they traded a future third-round pick in 2013 knowing that they would be likely getting a third-round compensatory pick the following year.