Kevin Colbert’s Worst Trades: K Josh Scobee

In the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers, few have been as influential in constructing the team into perennial contenders as former GM Kevin Colbert. Colbert led the Steelers to two Super Bowl wins and three appearances since taking over as the main decision-maker in the front office in 2000. While he has since retired and been replaced by Omar Khan, I’m going to be taking a look at the best and worst trades of Colbert’s tenure. As a GM, his hit rate was higher than most, but that doesn’t mean he still didn’t make some mistakes. 

One of the biggest came in 2015 when he traded for K Josh Scobee. A season-ending ACL tear to K Shaun Suisham and a hamstring injury suffered by his replacement, K Garrett Hartley, necessitated a move at the position. Instead of going back to the free agency well, Colbert traded a 2016 sixth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Scobee, who had been Jacksonville’s starter since 2004. Scobee had been beaten out by K Jason Myers that preseason though, and he was showing signs of decline. He hit just 76.9% of his field goal attempts in 2014, his lowest total since making just 64.3 % of his tries in 2009. 

For his career, he was a pretty solid kicker though, with a career FG% of 80.8% while knocking through 98.4% of his extra points. In Pittsburgh, things immediately got off to a rough start. On opening night against the New England Patriots, Scobee missed a 44-yard field goal on the opening drive of the NFL season. Later in the first half, with Pittsburgh trailing 7-0, Scobee again missed, this time from 46 yards out. He made his final two field goal attempts, but Pittsburgh fell 28-21 to New England in a game that also featured FB Will Johnson’s only rushing touchdown of his career.

In Week 2, Pittsburgh blew out the San Francisco 49ers 43-18, but Scobee missed an extra point. He was 2-2 in a 12-6 win over the Rams in Week 3, but with Michael Vick under center after an injury to Ben Roethlisberger, Scobee missed two kicks in a 23-20 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football. After making his first two attempts, Scobee missed a 49-yard try with 2:29 left in the fourth quarter and Pittsburgh leading 20-17. With 1:06 left in the game and Pittsburgh still holding on to a three-point lead, Scobee missed from 41 yards. A 17-yard reception by TE Darren Waller opened up the Ravens’ next drive, and with seven seconds left, Justin Tucker hit the game-tying field goal to send the game to overtime, which the Ravens would win on a 52-yard try by Tucker with just over five minutes left in OT. 

After that Ravens game, Scobee was released and the Steelers picked up Chris Boswell. So, at least this move had a silver lining attached to it, as Pittsburgh found one of the best kickers in the NFL today off the scrap heap. The pick the Steelers sent to Jacksonville turned into QB Brandon Allen, who started nine games in his career with minimal success. 

While getting Boswell was nice, the 2015 Steelers finished 10-6 with the final Wild Card spot, meaning they had to play the No. 1 seed Denver Broncos in the second round after they beat the Bengals in the Wild Card round. If Scobee hadn’t cost Pittsburgh the Baltimore game, and maybe even the New England game in Week 1, they would’ve had an easier path to the Super Bowl. Anytime you trade a draft pick for someone you only get four games out of it, it’s not a great trade, and the fact that Scobee played a big part in helping the Steelers lose games instead of winning them makes this one of Colbert’s worst trades.

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