If the Pittsburgh Steelers want to make a move for a quarterback – especially after what we learned about their interest in Malik Willis yesterday – there’s at least a chance they’ll be willing to trade up. And sitting way back at #20, the team might be looking ahead in the order to get their guy. While trades are impossible to predict for a million reasons, there’s at least two hypotheticals worth exploring.
In his recent Football Morning in America column, Peter King mentioned two teams looking to trade down in the first round of this year’s draft – the New York Giants and New York Jets. Here’s what King blurbed in reacting to the official draft order:
• The Giants, picking fifth and seventh overall, are likely to look to move one of them to try for multiple first-rounders next year.
• The Jets, with four picks in the top 40, would also love to put one of them off till next year, if the right offer comes.”
As King notes, the Giants have two picks ahead of the Steelers, #5 and #7. The Jets are in the same boat at #4 and #10. Two possible teams the Steelers could dance with if they want to make a leap up in the draft order. So what could those trades look like?
Predicting trades is tough to do. Different teams have different values, the draft pool itself determines how badly a team wants to stay or move down, competition from other teams looking to move up can increase the price, and the Steelers claim not to even use a trade chart in the first place.
But to set the scene, let’s use the conventional trade value chart to give us an idea of what the cost is. And map out trades with both teams.
New York Giants
Moving up 15 spots into the top five is a tall task, a radical move the Steelers haven’t made before under Kevin Colbert. But getting there would jump the Carolina Panthers at #6 who are strongly in the quarterback market. Their eyes may be on Kenny Pickett but hey, so could the Steelers, and if Pittsburgh wants to move to the front of the line, #5 is a great spot to do it.
The Giants’ #5 pick is worth 1,700 points. Here’s a trade that could work.
#5 Overall – 1,700 points
#20 Overall – 850 points
#84 Overall – 170 points
2023 first-rounder – approx 1,000 points
Total: 2020 points
Now, I know the Steelers are giving the Giants an extra 500 points here. But trades rarely break perfectly cleanly and if you’re a team like Pittsburgh trying to make a radical move for a quarterback, you’re going to pay extra for it. Call it the QB tax. I am approximating the 2023 first round slot too down the middle at #16 overall. The Giants get the points here for the risk of getting a lower first-rounder next season.
We also know the Steelers don’t want to be without both of their Day 2 picks, Colbert said as much in describing the Devin Bush trade, so they’re not going to send their second and third-rounder either from this year’s crop. If King’s reporting is true and the Giants want an extra first-rounder next year, perhaps to go after a big-name QB then, this is a deal that makes sense for both sides.
What about #7? It’s behind Carolina. But if Pittsburgh would love to have Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis, or let’s say they believe the Panthers will take Pickett while Willis is their top target, then #7 makes sense, too. It also vaults the Steelers ahead of teams like the Atlanta Falcons (#8), Seattle Seahawks (#9), and Washington Commanders (#11), all teams who are/could be in the QB market. What’s a deal look like there?
#7 Overall – 1,500 points
#20 Overall – 850 points
2023 1st rounder – approx 1,000 points
Total: 1,850 points
Very similar to the first deal minus the need to give up Pittsburgh’s third round pick, #84 overall. Again, Giants “win” with the points system but they take a little less overall in the deal because it’s a slightly lower pick and they can choose whoever they want at #5.
In this scenario, the Steelers don’t lose any additional draft capital in the 2022 draft, retaining both their Day 2 picks. The Giants get a top five selection, a pick at #20, and next year’s first. That’s a solid haul for new GM Joe Schoen and HC Brian Daboll.
New York Jets
So that’s the Giants. What about the other New York team, the Jets. What could a trade look like? They own picks #4 and #4. There’s not a compelling enough reason to go up to #4 so let’s focus on #10 if the Steelers get to a point where one of their QBs is dropping and for some reason, the Falcons/Seahawks aren’t biting.
#10 Overall – 1,300 points
#20 Overall – 850 points
#52 Overall – 380 points
2023 3rd Rounder – approx 200 points
Total: 1,430 points
Essentially, the same trade as the Steelers made from #20 to #10 with the Denver Broncos in 2019 to move up and take Devin Bush. This trade does put them in front of quarterback-curious teams like Washington at #11, even Houston at (#13 – they claim to be rolling with Davis Mills, but I’m not so sure), and the Saints further back at #18.
Granted, this trade doesn’t move any of the Jets’ top 40 picks “off until next year,” as King says but it does give them another asset next year in the form of a third-rounder. Perhaps the Jets would even prefer trading #10 for #20, the Steelers’ third-rounder (#84) and next year’s second-rounder instead.
What are the odds of these scenarios playing out? Who knows. While I try to avoid the “in the weeds” stuff like this, it’s a valid exercise to walk through. A trade-up this year is a real possibility and we should consider what partners the Steelers might have and what it would cost. No matter what, if the Steelers move up for someone they strongly believe is their franchise quarterback, the price they pay – to them – is priceless.