With the Steelers’ 2023 offseason underway following a disappointing season that came up just short of reaching the playoffs, it’s time to begin reloading, through the free agency process, through the draft, and perhaps even through trade.
This is now a young team on the offensive side of the ball, though one getting older on defense. Both sides could stand to be supplemented robustly, including in the trenches—either one. Changes have been made to the coaching staff, even if not all of the desired ones, as the roster continues to renew with the weeks ticking by.
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 needed to leapfrog the New York Jets at 15 in order to get Broderick Jones.
Explanation: The Jets swapped first-round picks with the Green Bay Packers as part of the trade for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, moving from 13 to 15. New York reportedly coveted Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones, for whom the Steelers traded up with the New England Patriots to 14 in order to select him.
Not every trade up is made with the team knowing that if it doesn’t make the move, it’s not going to get the player it wanted. But you don’t want to take the risk, so you pull the trigger. That wasn’t the case here. No, maybe the Steelers didn’t know as an absolute fact that the Jets were going to draft Broderick Jones, but of course they were going to.
New York just traded for Aaron Rodgers, and they need help along the offensive line, including at tackle. Jones was clearly the top name on the board. They were going to get him. Mekhi Becton hasn’t played in almost two years at this point. Duane Brown is THIRTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD. You want Cedric Ogbuehi on the field?
If the Jets were so set on getting one of the top tackles, they wouldn’t have included the 13-to-15 swap as part of their trade for Rodgers, knowing the risk of being leapfrogged. They knew the Steelers would be watching, at the least. And they decided to take an edge rusher instead of an offensive lineman.
They could have drafted Anton Harrison, or traded down and still got him while recouping some of what they lost in acquiring Rodgers, if they were so set on a tackle. They badly needed help on the edge as well. Will McDonald IV fits the Jets’ defensive personality. His size doesn’t matter. He’ll be put out wide and let run loose.
Maybe another team would have traded up to 16 to get Jones. Or maybe the Patriots were taking other calls at 14 from teams who wanted Jones as well. But the Jets looked pretty damn happy in their war room about getting an edge rusher who they will know how to employ. And they are the Jets. They don’t always do what you would think a smart team would do.