It has been a while since I have sat down and penned one of my Letter From The Editor articles, but I felt the time was right heading into Week 4. As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, I can’t help but think about how much this roster has changed since cut down day at the end of the preseason.
Gone are Joshua Dobbs, Jerald Hawkins and several rookies, but players are let go all the time. What has been truly unique about the early portions of this season have been the trades made to acquire talent.
In the last two weeks the team has shipped a 2020 first round pick, and others, to the Miami Dolphins for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, and most recently gave a 5th round pick to the Seattle Seahawks for tight end Nick Vannett.
To take a quick sidebar, in the six years I have been the editor of this fine establishment, I have become very good at putting my finger on the pulse of the fan base. When things are going bad, I could predict just how the majority of fans will react. There are some who are never happy, even after a Super Bowl win, but what I’ve realized the most after the past two weeks are the people who need to realize they can’t talk out of both sides of their mouths.
Every offseason when the new league year begins and free agency starts, you hear fans bemoaning the fact the Steelers aren’t big players in the free agency process. There are FanPosts written about how trades should happen because the Steelers should try to win now, and at all costs.
Now, some, not all, of those same people who are always wishing the Steelers were more aggressive when it comes to trades and acquisitions, are the same people who are filling the comment section with comments regarding the fact they feel the Steelers are selling their future by giving away so many draft picks.
Sure, giving up a first round pick isn’t an easy thing to stomach, but getting a proven commodity is certainly better than a gamble of any draft pick, even in the first round. If you are reading this, please understand this article isn’t written towards all fans. There are those who believe the team should be built through the draft, and trading away those assets should be a cautious practice. That’s fine, kudos to you for standing firm in your beliefs. Then there are those who think draft picks are nothing but ammunition to gain more talent for your team. That’s fine, kudos to you for standing firm in your beliefs.
But there are some who want both, and you can’t have it that way. You can’t build your team through the draft and be ultra aggressive in regards of acquiring talent. There might be some who think trades shouldn’t include draft picks, but player-for-player trades in the NFL are extremely rare in today’s game.
The other day during our Standard is the Standard podcast, we talked about the “Steelers Way”. We defined this way of running a team as building the team through the draft, and we followed it up with wondering if that way is officially dead.
I wouldn’t say it is dead, but the way of winning in the NFL is changing, and the game itself is changing with it. Fans want to compare today’s game to those 1970s teams, but those teams didn’t have to worry about free agency or a salary cap. In today’s day and age teams have to be aggressive in spots, and know when to sit back and just keep their draft picks.
The Steelers are doing just that. They have been extremely aggressive this season, especially with the Fitzpatrick trade, but we all know there have been times when the team has decided to take the conservative role when it comes to these decisions.
It may be difficult to stomach, but this current leadership team has seen a lot of success since 2007. It might not always have been pretty, but they have seen a level success only a few teams in the NFL have seen over that time period. I typically tend to trust the organization when it comes to these types of decisions. But like all things in today’s day and age, we should all take a wait-and-see approach. If Minkah Fitzpatrick becomes a staple in the back end of the secondary for over a decade, was the trade a bad one?
Let’s just wait to see how things pan out over time before drawing any conclusions...