With the Steelers’ 2022 season unfortunately now in the rearview mirror, a 9-8 campaign that came up short too late in spite of a strong second half, we now turn our attention to the offseason, and the many decisions that will have to be made over the course of the next several months.
This is now a young team on the offensive side of the ball, though one getting older on defense, and both sides could stand to be supplemented robustly, including in the trenches—either one. Decisions about the coaching staff must also be made, as well as who to prioritize in free agency, and what to look for from the outside, before getting to the draft.
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: The Steelers should seriously consider dealing their 32nd overall pick for a veteran commodity.
Explanation: Historically, the Steelers have been more motivated to make bold gestures when they acquire extra resources, whether through trades or compensatory draft picks. With the 32nd overall pick as a ‘bonus’ for letting Chase Claypool go, they could turn that around and add a veteran who would be an immediate contributor rather than a developmental gamble.
There’s a report going around suggesting that the Bengals are open to trading wide receiver Tee Higgins, going into the final year of his contract. The stipulation was, however, that they would only be willing to trade him if the numbers became ‘outrageous’ during the negotiations. The Steelers are not going to trade for a wide receiver and turn around and pay him outrageous money.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t find another player out there, ideally someone who is not on an expiring contract, who can come in right away. They were willing to deal a first-round pick and got Minkah Fitzpatrick for it. Plenty of teams are in the process of changing regimes, and that means loyalty to players shifts. If the right name surfaces for the right price, you deal the pick.
The best move for the 32nd overall pick may indeed be to trade it—but not for a veteran player. The first pick in the second round is often one of the hottest commodities in the draft, with teams who picked in the first round wanting to try to scoop up that one player they rated highly who slipped. That’s why we often see that pick get flipped.
But given that the pick is so valuable, that also means it’s valuable to the Steelers. They have their own first-round pick. But they’ll also have their pick of every single player that didn’t go in the first round when day two begins. Whether that particular player or the potential compensation for trading back is more rewarding—even if moving back just a few picks—is the more valuable won’t be known until draft day.