Kozora: Four Players The Steelers Could Trade Away (And Where They Could Go)

Joshua Dobbs

The Pittsburgh Steelers have an obvious hole in their organization. Not on the roster but in their draft chest. Thanks to the trades that brought in LB Avery Williamson, LB Joe Schobert, and DL Isaiahh Loudermilk, the Steelers currently don’t have a 2022 fourth, fifth, or sixth-round pick. Granted, they are expected to receive comp picks next year, at least a third and fifth and possibly something else depending on what happens with the Joe Haeg/Mike Hilton calculations.

With those picks being shipped away, it only makes sense for the Steelers to look to fill that gap. And there’s enough depth in a couple key areas for the team to potentially receive a late Day 3 pick. And as a general principle, if you can nab a draft pick for a player you’re about to cut, that’s smart business. Kevin Colbert’s no stranger to making those types of deals.

Here are three trade scenarios that make a lot of sense. They aren’t sexy, they’re not going after Stephon Gilmore or some major, front-page deal, but these are three assets the Steelers could shop for an extra pick next offseason.

Scenario #1 – P Jordan Berry and/or LS Kameron Canaday to the Green Bay Packers

Punter and long snapper mania. That’s how we’re starting – hope you’re buckled in. Berry and rookie Pressley Harvin III have each enjoyed solid training camps. I think Harvin still has the edge to be the Steelers punter but Berry punted his best once he was brought back last year. And don’t forget Danny Smith stated Berry’s doing as well as he ever has. Maybe that was a little bit of trade bait he was throwing into the waters.

The Packers? They aren’t having that kind of a good problem JK Scott has been their starter for the past three seasons. 2020 produced his best average, 45.5 yards per punt, but even that was just 20th best in the league. Punting at Lambeau in December sure doesn’t help, so that number perhaps should be graded on a curve, but he’s struggled this summer, especially in the team’s second preseason game against the Jets. He averaged just 40.8 yards on four punts with only one of those landing inside the 20. One open field punt travelled just 21 yards.

For what it’s worth, Packers’ fans haven’t been happy with his performance. This article ripped him apart and essentially said the team needs to move on. Others have said the same thing.

Scott does have a good reputation as a holder and that might be what’s keeping him on the roster. Berry has also performed well in that role so there wouldn’t be a dropoff there.

That’s not the Packers only special teams issue. There’s apparently just as many problems at long snapper too. Sports Illustrated outlined the struggles current snapper Hunter Bradley’s had.

“On Tuesday, for instance, Mason Crosby kicked six field goals. Punter/holder JK Scott had to reach forward to grab the ball from the top of the FieldTurf on three of those snaps. It was a miserable performance that has to give Gutekunst – who has shown uncommon patience with Bradley – a serious case of heartburn.”

If a proven guy like Kameron Canaday loses out to Christian Kuntz, Green Bay could be a logical landing spot. Berry and Canaday have experience kicking in cold, miserable conditions so that’s a benefit there too.

Green Bay shipped a sixth round pick to Houston to fulfill Aaron Rodgers’ request of getting back Randall Cobb. But they have a pair of seventh round picks to play with, picking one up last week after trading CB Ka’Dar Hollman to Houston.

I could see Berry or Canaday – and hey, maybe both considering their chemistry together – going up North for a seventh.

Buffalo and Atlanta also make sense in terms of potential suitors for Berry.

Trade Scenario: Jordan Berry and/or Kameron Canaday to Green Bay for a 2022 seventh round-pick

Scenario #2 – QB Josh Dobbs to the New York Jets

It’s a QB-driven league. It’s also a QB-starved league. So though Dobbs doesn’t have a significant NFL resume, there could still be a market for a smart, athletic quarterback who has spent a decent amount of time in the league. The odds of him staying in Pittsburgh aren’t great with Dwayne Haskins, even considering Friday’s performance, likely doing enough to make the team. Dobbs was given extremely limited reps in practice and in an honest moment, admitted how frustrating that was. There’s no compelling reason to believe he would accept a practice squad job in Pittsburgh even if he was offered. Why would he?

So trade him. Or at least try to. Finding a dance partner is a bit difficult to do but the Jets make sense. New OC Mike LaFleur is a West Coast mind from the Shanahan tree (and big brother Matt). That’s a priority on zone running game and bootlegs/playaction offensively, a similar style to Matt Canada. Haskins compared some of what the Steelers are doing now to his first year in Washington under Jay Gruden, who shares the same philosophy.

The Jets also have zero proven depth behind face-of-the-franchise Zach Wilson. None of them were drafted by new head coach Robert Saleh. Backups Mike White and James Morgan have never thrown an NFL pass. They signed journeyman Josh Johnson but he isn’t likely to be the team’s #2 QB and speaks to their desire of someone who has played in this league.

Dobbs, assuming last night’s turf toe injury is minor, would be a great #2/#3 who could come off the bench in a pinch and run this offense. He’d also be a bright mind to work alongside a rookie like Wilson, who needs as good a supporting cast as possible.

The Jets don’t have a seventh-round pick but they have three sixth-rounders. A sixth-rounder alone might be a bit much for Dobbs but teams get creative with these picks. If I’m the Steelers, I’ll trade the 2022 seventh-rounder they currently own (which funny enough, came from the Jets as part of the Williamson deal) for a sixth. A pick swap that’ll bump the Steelers up probably 20-30 spots next year.

Trade Scenario: Josh Dobbs to New York + a 2022 seventh for a 2022 sixth round pick

Scenario #3 – DL Isaiah Buggs to the Jacksonville Jaguars 

The Steelers’ strongest position of depth comes along the defensive line. Unless they get a little radical and keep seven, they’re going to make a tough cut. And potentially lose that odd man out to waivers. So trade someone and get value out of it.

In comes Buggs. And out he goes to Jacksonville. Buggs has had a good camp and plays the run well with position flexibility, mostly seeing time at nose tackle in the Steelers’ base defense but with the ability to play as a sub-package defensive tackle or base end.

Little dot-connecting here from a coaching staff standpoint. Steelers’ fans know Karl Dunbar was Buggs’ primary coach at Alabama but Dunbar took the Steelers’ job as Buggs was entering his final year with the Crimson Tide. Craig Kuligowski became the D-line coach while Tosh Lupoi served as the team’s co-defensive coordinator. It was Buggs’ best season, busting out for 13.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. Kuligowski remains in college but Lupoi is now, you guessed it, the Jags’ defensive line coach.

Jacksonville isn’t dying for defensive line depth with Davon Hamilton healthy and the trade for Malcolm Brown but Buggs would be a good back-end-of-the-roster odd. He reminds me a good bit of Hamilton, actually. Jacksonville plans to run a hybrid defense this season, a mix of 3-4 and 4-3, and Buggs ability to play up and down the line is a plus.

These two front offices already know each other having completed the Schobert trade already this season. With two cheap years left on his rookie deal, he’s worth a seventh-rounder.

Trade Scenario: Isaiah Buggs to Jacksonville for a 2022 seventh round pick

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