Needing to address the depth chart at outside linebacker behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, especially after a puzzling decision to cut perceived No. 3 OLB Genard Avery last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers and GM Omar Khan may have taken advantage of a roster crunch in Denver to acquire a talented player, landing veteran outside linebacker Malik Reed Tuesday in a trade with the Broncos.
Reed and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft were acquired for a sixth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft Tuesday, hours before the 4 p.m. deadline to get the roster trimmed to 53 players.
Turns out, Khan and the Steelers may have addressed the depth chart behind Watt and Highsmith much better than they could have possibly anticipated.
In three seasons as an undrafted free agent out of Nevada, Reed has been a revelation for the Broncos. Playing just under 2,000 career snaps defensively, Reed has recorded 15 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, 51 quarterback hurries and 15 total tackles for loss, starting 34 career games while seeing action in 45 total.
Stepping in for former first-round pick Bradley Chubb in 2020, Reed really took off for Denver, recording 8.0 sacks for the Broncos opposite Von Miller, before then recording 5.0 sacks in 2021 in a reserve role. He’s shown the ability to rush the passer featuring a handful of intriguing moves, especially the ghost rush to get underneath bigger linemen.
Former NFL offensive lineman Mark Schlereth, who spent 12 seasons in the NFL with Washington and the Broncos, appeared on 93.7 The Fan’s PM Show with hosts Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller Tuesday and sang the praises of Reed, who was a guy he didn’t want to see the Broncos move.
“Malik Reed is a very productive player and every time he gets an opportunity,” Schlereth said to Fillipponi and Mueller, according to audio via 93.7 The Fan. “He just goes out and flat makes plays. I was on the radio today saying ‘they can’t move him, it would be a mistake’. Low and behold they do it.”
The Broncos found themselves in a roster crunch at the outside linebacker position, especially after the emergence of second-year pro Baron Browning and the impressive growth of second-year pro Jonathon Cooper, not to mention the additions of rookie Nik Bonitto and veteran Randy Gregory in the offseason to pair with Chubb.
That left Reed as the odd man out, which allowed the Steelers to pounce. Turns out, the Broncos ended up sending Reed where he wanted to go, too, which was to Pittsburgh to play under Mike Tomlin, according to Broncos GM George Paton.
In Pittsburgh, Reed will get a chance to see significant snaps as the No. 3 behind Watt and Highsmith, providing valuable depth as a pass rusher off the edge with the Steelers.
“You got a hell of a football player,” Schlereth added, according to audio via 93.7 The Fan. “A guy who will be productive every time he gets the opportunity.”
That’s who Reed has been throughout his career. Don’t expect that to change in a new location, either.