The Pittsburgh Steelers, if you haven’t noticed, are having some issues at the moment. Their cumulative effect sees them sitting at 1-4 through five games, which is not a place where they customarily find themselves. And it’s hard to find the optimism that much is going to change in the very near future.
The problems are multiple, but talent is certainly one of them, and the options to address that in-season are limited. The trade deadline is still weeks away, however, and that is one avenue open to them that they are not unfamiliar with. The Athletic has a trade proposal for Pittsburgh—one for each team—in its latest power rankings, which has them ranked 30th in the league now, dropping two spots from last week.
While the offensive line has largely been better than expected going into the season, it would be foolish to mistake that as being the same as actually being good. Bo Wulf proposes for the outlet that the Steelers acquire a new tackle from the cross-state Philadelphia Eagles, left tackle Andre Dillard. He writes:
The Steelers’ season is going to be a long one that’s likely to land Mike Tomlin with a losing record, but protecting Kenny Pickett needs to be their top priority. Pickett has been preternaturally decisive for a rookie in his first two games, and his willingness to stand in the pocket before taking a big hit is admirable, but they might need to save him from himself. Dillard, the Eagles’ first-round pick in 2019, is set to return soon from a forearm injury and would provide competent play at the position. The play of Jack Driscoll at left tackle the past two weeks has probably made trading Dillard more palatable for the Eagles, with Dillard set to be a free agent this offseason.
Wulf does make one very compelling point: the Steelers’ absolute number one priority right now has to be protecting rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett. He is the horse to which they have hitched their wagon, and that’s for potentially decades to come, not just for 2022. Getting him injured in what almost everybody on the outside views as a lost season would be a gut punch.
As for Dillard, well, the scenario itself checks out. The Washington State alum has only made nine starts out of 31 games in his career, so it’s not as though he is an established starter, but Dan Moore Jr. has 21 starts in the 22 games since he was drafted, and that’s not saying much.
Dillard missed all of the 2020 season, his second year, with a torn biceps. He lost the team’s starting left tackle job in training camp last year to Jordan Mailata. He had surgery to repair a broken forearm in early September and has been on the Reserve/Injured List. Trading for somebody else’s backup in the hopes that he can be your starter is rarely a good idea, but depth is never a bad thing to have.