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Point/Counterpoint: The Steelers are jeopardizing the future by trading draft choices

BTSC writers Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis offer differing opinions on whether or not the Steelers are sacrificing too much of the future by trading for players now.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are off to a terrible 0-3 start in 2019. After sending away draft picks in a trade for the second week in a row, fans and media are lamenting the loss of draft picks in 2020.

BTSC’s resident heels, The Steelers Hangover’s Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis, have differing viewpoints on this particular subject. Read them as they slug it out in text below.

The Steelers are jeopardizing the future by trading draft choices.

Tony Defeo’s Point

“I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside.”

That philosophy, expressed so eloquently by Jackson Heights’ own Mr. Randy Watson in the movie Coming to America, is one that has been shared by the Pittsburgh Steelers for well over 50 years. In the Steelers case, their children have been draft choices, the building blocks to their continued winning success since the late-60s when the late, great Chuck Noll and his scouting department started treating them like gold.

I guess you might say the Steelers USED to share the same philosophy as Randy Watson. Seriously, when did general manager Kevin Colbert transform into Jerry Jones? Is he trying to be the next Bobby Beathard, the legendary general manager of the Dolphins, Redskins and a Chargers team that didn’t have a first-round pick between 1994-1997 because he kept trading them all away? Can you imagine if that happened today with social media so omnipresent? My goodness. Actually, it might, and it might be the Steelers since they’re losing draft picks more often these days than long-time Raiders executive assistant Al LoCasale lost his teeth. I swear, the man had one less tooth each time he appeared on an NFL Films special about the Raider Way back in the ‘70s and ‘80s (apparently, the Raider Way didn’t include a dental plan).

Anyway, for the first time since 1967, the Steelers aren’t scheduled to pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Why? Because they traded it away to the Dolphins last week in-exchange for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick a.k.a the Steelers 2020 first-round pick. Sure. I mean, fans are saying how great Fitzpatrick is now (they’re even calling him Fitz, awwwww!), that he’s a sure thing, that he has a chance to be the team’s next great safety. Yeah, I’ll believe that logical reaction when I see it next spring. You know how fans are, they’re like that teenager that says, “Mom, Dad, I swear, if you let me use my savings to buy that guitar now, I promise I won’t ask you for money to go on that trip at the end of the summer.” You know what usually happens at the end of summer, right? Mom and Dad are suddenly the meanest people on the planet for actually expecting Junior to live up to his word.

What if the Steelers finish with double-digit losses, which they’re well on their way to doing now that they’ve started 0-3 and will be without the services of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the rest of 2019? What if such a record would have put them in-line to draft a potential franchise quarterback? Instead, if that kind of record becomes a reality, it will be the Dolphins who will likely draft a franchise pass-rusher, since they’ll have already used their own first-round pick to draft a quarterback.

No first-round pick next year. No second-round pick in 2019, thanks to that blockbuster move on draft night that allowed Pittsburgh to move up into the top 10 to select inside linebacker Devin Bush. Bush is a sure thing, though, right? Nobody knows. All anyone knows for certain is that the Steelers could have used that second-round pick to take, oh, I don’t know, a tight end? I know what you’re going to say, “But Vance McDonald is the number one tight end for the Steelers, Tony!” Maybe, but you know how things go in the NFL. One day, you’re number one. The next day, you’re number two on another team because you can never, ever stay healthy. Such has been the case with McDonald during his two-plus years in Pittsburgh. And after staying off the injury report all of last year, McDonald is back there again this week with a shoulder ailment. Will McDonald suit up this Monday night vs. the Bengals? Nobody knows for sure, and with Xavier Grimble also banged up, the Steelers were forced to trade next year’s fifth-round pick to the Seahawks on Tuesday for Nick Vannett just so they were assured that at least one able and warm body will be available to play tight end for them in Week 4. Vannett, a third-round pick out of The Ohio State in 2016, is in the final year of his rookie contract. That essentially makes him a rent-a-player, which likely means the Steelers just traded a fifth-round pick away for a guy they probably won’t even try to sign next spring.

Another question: why are the Steelers going all-in when they were dealt a five and six right out of the gate and have some pretty long odds for drawing a straight they can actually win with? Yes, I like Mason Rudolph, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to develop into even a decent NFL quarterback. Are the Steelers so certain he is, they’re willing to mortgage their future? I mean, no offense to them, but just because they had a first-round grade on Rudolph doesn’t mean he’s a first-round talent. And even if he is a first-round talent, that doesn’t mean he’ll develop into a really good quarterback. I also realize there’s hope that Roethlisberger will come back stronger than ever next year after having surgery to repair his throwing elbow. No offense to the Steelers, but there was hope that Terry Bradshaw would come back from his elbow surgery 36 years ago, which emboldened the Steelers to pass on Dan Marino in the 1983 NFL Draft.

You know how that ended.

Oh well, I’ve rambled on too long about this, but I will leave you with one last thought: trading away future draft picks to satisfy the “now” is sort of like using your credit card with the zero balance and really high credit line to make that one purchase. Soon, it gets easier and easier to charge things on that card and, before you know it, you’re maxed out, your credit score is awful and, next thing you know, you’re asking your girlfriend to co-sign on a loan so you can finance a 2011 Ford Focus.

Unfortunately, there are no co-signers in the NFL, and once you mortgage your future, you’re on your own.

Bryan Anthony Davis’ Counterpoint

A Randy Watson reference? Sure...“that boy good”, but it wasn’t the front man of Sexual Chocolate to pen those words. It was a Linda Creed composition and was first voiced by George Benson for the 1977 biopic about Muhammad Ali...The Greatest. Tony, BTSC may just have to put you in the concussion protocol for going to “the children our the future” well for this argument. I’m been to my daughter’s elementary school classroom. If your “Greatest Love Of All” theory is true, then all of our futures hinge on paste-eaters, booger-pickers and people that snicker at any reference to the word “boobies”. So forgive me if I’m not high on guessing on prospects when a commodity with a sample size comes available.

When it comes to Steelers GM Kevin Colbert making trades, why are we always so concerned about “Door No. 2” like we’re standing next to Monty Hall in 1975 dressed up in a Little Bo Peep suit on Let’s Make A Deal? Fact: Trades are risky. Fact: In order to upgrade a position of need that is lacking, you take a risk. Fact: Trades can pay big dividends. Three Steelers that were integral in the Steelers earning rings in the last 15 seasons, Jerome Bettis, Troy Polamalu and Santonio Holmes, arrived because the Steelers front office gave up very high picks in order to upgrade their rosters in 1996, 2003 and 2006 respectively. It’s true that Holmes and Polamalu were not known commodities, but they fit glaring needs at the time. The picks that they surrendered included solid players and busts alike. But no one is wondering what might have been if Ernie Conwell, Ryan Tucker, Brooks Bollinger, Julian Battle, Gerris Wilkinson and Guy Whimper had been in black-and-gold instead of that trio of legends. Whimper was eventually a memorable Steeler, but only because Steeler fans would like to forget him. So with that said, I’d much rather have the speed boat instead of getting stuck with a room full of Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat.

  • All we’ve talked about since before the draft has been the exorbitant lack of depth at two positions,,,Tight End and Safety. So what do the Steelers do? They go out and grab an extraordinary talent at the safety spot that Nick Saban calls the best leader that he’s ever coached. Fans went crazy because the reverse of undefeated Stillers gave away their future franchise quarterback” by taking a player with a sample size big enough to surrender a top pick. Minkah Fitzpatrick payed instant dividends by intercepting a pass and forcing a fumble in his first game as a Steeler. Then, they repair the lack of depth at the TE spot by nabbing Niick Vannett essentially for Joshua Dobbs, who they received a fifth round pick from Jacksonville for last week. Vannett might not be a blockbuster but he really upgrades the position in the short term and may have to start on Monday Night should Vance McDonald not be ready to go. Plus giving up a five might not be that terrible. Take a look at these Round Fivers from the Tomlin era,
  • 2007: Cameron Stephenson and William Gay
  • 2008: Dennis Dixon
  • 2009: Joe Burnett and Frank Summers
  • 2010: Chris Scott, Crezdon Butler, Stevenson Sylvester
  • 2011: Chris Carter
  • 2012: Chris Rainey
  • 2013: Terry Hawthorne
  • 2014: Shaquille Richardson and Wesley Johnson
  • 2015: Jesse James
  • 2016: None
  • 2017: Brian Allen
  • 2018: Marcus Allen and Jaylen Samuels

Besides Gay, James and Samuels...nobody there is worth not fixing a problem now and trying to save a season.

I keep hearing how this isn’t the way the Steelers usually do things. But for years I heard that the Steelers need to join the world of modern football and adapt with the times. So what should it be? Should the Steelers just give up and throw in the Terrible Towel? I wouldn’t take pride in a team that did that. Plus that’s never what they’ve done before. In 1989, the team didn’t have close to the talent that they have now and rebounded from a combined 92-10 score in two losses to open the season to a dropped pass in Denver from the AFC Championship Game. The Steelers started 1-3 in 2002 and Tommy Maddox came in to get them to the divisional round. In 2013, the Steelers started 0-4 and rallied to go 8-8 only to see a Ryan Succop miss for the Chiefs keep them out of the playoffs. So just like the historically-inaccurate rallying cry for the Deltas in Animal House...

What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!...It ain’t over now, ‘cause when the goin’ gets tough, the tough get goin’. Who’s with me? Let’s go! Come on!”

With that, I say live for the now and don’t give up. The turf isn’t greener on the other side and nobody ever said Boy, I wish I had a room full of “Rice-A-Roni”.

Bryan won the last two debates, who will prevail this week? Which writer is on the money? Who is way off base? Sunday’s game will help moderate this debate even more. But now, it’s your chance to chime in below in the comments section and in the poll below.


Do you agree more with Tony Defeo or Bryan Anthony Davis on whether or not the Steelers are mortgaging the future?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    TonDef is right
    (129 votes)
  • 82%
    BAD is right
    (593 votes)
722 votes total Vote Now