The Pittsburgh Steelers do not traditionally make moves at the NFL’s trading deadline. They prefer to build through the draft and keep their team intact and not jeopardize future drafts by trading choices for current players.
That thinking has always served them well, but this year there are some holes that the team might want to consider filling as the deadline approaches.
Here’s a look at five possible moves that the Steelers could realistically make.
There are plenty of teams that could use a steady possession receiver and the Steelers aren’t really utilizing Cotchery much to this point. The work has continually gone to Emmanuel Sanders. Chris Rainey showed some skills splitting out wide against the Titans as well.
Cotchery has some value to a team with injuries or ineffective receivers and he is a good leader and team guy. There are several teams this year that realistically can be called contenders to this point, so the market could be bigger than usual.
The Miami Dolphins could be a target. They need a receiver for their young quarterback and are playing surprisingly well so far.
The Steelers could bring David Gilreath back on board to replace Cotchery.
The Steelers have an ineffective rushing attack, but that doesn’t mean they have bad runners. They actually have a surplus of effective runners that are all fighting for a limited amount of carries.
The injury sustained by running back Rashard Mendenhall will determine a lot of how this team approaches their running back situation, but if he isn’t seriously hurt and if Isaac Redman is able to bounce back from another ding, the Steelers could use their backfield depth to help elsewhere.
Plenty of teams are short of runners right now. The Dallas Cowboys, who showed a great rushing attack against Baltimore, may be without DeMarco Murray for awhile. They could use a guy like Redman or Jonathan Dwyer.
The Steelers will likely target help at safety if possible. Ryan Mundy has been terrible, Will Allen is old and Robert Golden is still too raw. With Troy Polamalu unable to get and stay healthy, getting someone would be a big boost.
Well, at this point, anyone who’s available would be okay with me. The Steelers have a black hole at the position with Ike Taylor falling apart, Keenan Lewis still finding consistency and Cortez Allen still growing into a role.
Getting someone that can really be an upgrade is important, but the price is something to consider. The Steelers should be looking ahead to spending a first round pick on a corner or safety in the draft next April. They simply cannot ignore the secondary again after it has been torched.
That said, giving up a mid-round selection for some help now could assist with getting this season back on track. The Steelers are falling far behind Baltimore early and will need some serious turnaround to get back on track. With a division that now features four effective passers, the Steelers need to shore up that defensive backfield.
This isn’t so much a trade situation, although it could be with draft picks, but the Steelers need to shake things up. There are too many underperforming guys that simply seem to be taking up space and wasting time.
You can put Ryan Mundy on that list. Leonard Pope, through no fault of his own, hasn’t really been essential to anything on offense. Chris Carter hasn’t been good. There are other guys too that could be replaced given their production.
I’m not talking about a complete implosion of the backups on this roster, but there are areas that have too much depth (running back, linebacker) for the need. They have other spots (corner, offensive line) that are lacking depth because of injury or ineffectiveness.
Solving those issues won’t be easy, but re-balancing the roster might be in order with a couple of cuts.
One thing that’s become perfectly clear so far this year is that the Steelers have a serious set of holes that they need to start filling. They need more help along the offensive line. They need a couple of corners. They need to consider the future at the safety spots.
They have some pieces that would interest other teams if they’re willing to put them on the market.
Guys like Jonathan Dwyer or Isaac Redman might interest a team. Baron Batch and Chris Rainey have been good enough to believe they could step into those spots. Jerricho Cotchery seems wasted on this team since it relies on three receiver sets or two tight ends more often than it spreads out.
While the Steelers could elect to go with scenarios I already discussed, they could also deal these players for draft choices. That would be more to the team’s style and would allow them greater flexibility in their draft strategy. It would also provide some salary relief and give the team room to entertain some contract extensions.
This scenario is probably the most likely given the way Kevin Colbert’s front office works.