Over the last five years, the Steelers have made multiple trades involving both players and draft picks. When a player gets moved and draft capital is used in return, the selections have a certain value although how they actually pan out is determined by the player taken. With this in mind, here are 10 trades over the last five years showing the actual players gained and lost based on who was selected with the draft picks. Not every trade the Steelers made is covered here, but these are just most of the highlights. In some situations, multiple trades are combined into one to see who the Steelers ultimately gained and lost. Additionally, I will give my best guess as who actually won each trade.
Devin Bush for Noah Fant, Drew Sample, and Lloyd Cushenberry
The biggest thing that jumps out with this trade once names or associated with the draft picks is the 3-to-1 ratio it took in order for the Steelers to move up to the 10th position to select Bush. The fact the Broncos took Fant with the first round selection they received from the Steelers is interesting as many projected him to go to the Steelers at 20 should they had not made the move. The Broncos traded the second-round pick they received from the Steelers to the Cincinnati Bengals who drafted yet another tight end in Sample. With the selection of C/G Lloyd Cushenberry in the 2020 draft, the trade for Bush is now complete. While the Steelers feel that they have their linebacker for the future in Bush, it will probably still take a season or two to get the full impact of this deal.
Winner: TBD until 2021
(Incomplete) Minkah Fitzpatrick and Kevin Dotson for Austin Jackson and Josh Dobbs
The full effects of this trade are still not complete as the Steelers also sent their sixth-round pick in 2021 to the Dolphins in exchange for their seventh-round selection. But what has been done so far has the Steelers gaining an All-Pro safety as well as a very intriguing prospect for the future at the guard position in Dotson. While the Steelers’ origional draft choice was used to take offense of tackle Austin Jackson at the 18th position, the fifth-round pick the Steelers sent to Miami was actually the one they acquired from Jacksonville for quarterback Joshua Dobbs.
Winner: Steelers by a mile, but if the sixth-round selection the Dolphins get next season ends up being Tom Brady 2.0, it could narrow the gap a little.
Nick Vannett for Khaleke Hudson
It was quite confusing which fifth-round pick the Steelers sent to Miami and which one went to Seattle in turn for Vannett. Originally thinking it was the 154th pick the Steelers received for Dobbs, it was actually the 162nd selection which was slated to the Steelers originally. Seattle ended up using this pick in a trade, so it was ultimately the Washington Redskins who selected Khaleke Hudson out of Michigan. A player who started off as a safety and moved to linebacker, it is unsure which position the Redskins have in mind for their fifth-round choice. Even with the lack of production from Vannett, The Steelers needed another body at the tight end position in 2019 unless they would have thrown Zach Gentry into the mix.
Ulysees Gilbert III for Marcus Gilbert
Although he was most likely the Steelers best right tackle of the decade, Marcus Gilbert became expendable after dealing with injuries in 2018. The Steelers turned the sixth-round pick they received from Gilbert to another player with the same surname. Even though Ulysees only played seven games for the Steelers in 2019 before going on injured reserve, Marcus never made it to the regular season for the Cardinals before succumbing to injury.
Winner: Steelers (7 games are more than 0)
Dionte Johnson and Zach Gentry for Antonio Brown
The evaluation of this trade comes down to the value of the player before the trade versus their value after. There is no doubt Antonio Brown was an All-Pro receiver and should have commanded more in a trade, but not even playing a single game in Oakland and only one for the 2019 season, the fact the Steelers got anything, let alone another promising young receiver, makes this easier.
Mason Rudolph for Martavis Bryant and Ross Cockrell
When the Steelers drafted Mason Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 draft, neither draft pick they used for the selection was originally slated to them. Using the third-round pick the Steelers received from the Raiders for Martavis Bryant, the Steelers also used the seventh round pick they had in return for cornerback Ross Cockrell from the New York Giants in order to trade ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals and grab Rudolph.
Winner: TBD (depends on Rudolph’s future)
Ryan Switzer and Sutton Smith for Mike Jackson
When the Steelers traded for Ryan Switzer at the beginning of the 2018 season, they gave up their fifth-round pick in exchange for sixth-rounder from the Raiders. The selection the Steelers gave up then made the rounds extensively before a player was chosen. First, the Raiders traded the pick to Buffalo for A.J. McCarron. The Bills then traded the pick back to the Raiders in order to move up two spots in the second round of the 2019 draft. The Raiders did not make the pick either as they traded a seventh-round pick to the Cowboys in order to move up from 158 to 149 and select Hunter Renfrow. The bottom line is, the Cowboys selected cornerback (and not the king of pop) Michael Jackson who they placed on their practice squad only to be poached by the Detroit Lions at the end of October.
Winner: Ben Roethlisberger, who got a new friend.
J.J. Wilcox and Justin Gilbert for Sammie Coates, Jack Cichy, and Myles Gaskin
This was another craziness of trades. First, in 2016 the Steelers traded their sixth-round pick in the 2018 draft to the Cleveland Browns for corerback Justin Gilbert. The Steelers gained the pick back from the Browns in 2017 when they traded them Sammie Coates and their seventh-round selection in 2019. The Steelers turned right around and traded away the pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for J.J. Wilcox. The Buccaneers selected linebacker Jack Cichy while the Browns used the seventh-round pick as part of the package to acquire Jarvis Landry. The Dolphins ultimately selected running back Myles Gaskin.
Winner: Anybody who actually followed that madness.
Josh Scobee for Brandon Allen
When both Shaun Suisham and Garrett Hartley went down for the Steelers to begin the 2015 season, it appeared to be a good move to acquire Josh Scobee from the Jaguars in return for a sixth-round pick. Scobee only played four games for the Steelers while the Jaguars drafted quarterback Brandon Allen who never played a game in Jacksonville.
Winner: The Baltimore Ravens since Scobee handed them the last game he played.
Brandon Boykin for Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Steelers’ fans were excited about the acquisition of Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, but only playing 25% of the defensive snaps his one year in Pittsburgh was not what fans envisioned. The fifth-round pick the Steelers sent to the Eagles in exchange for Boykin landed them offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai who started 20 regular season games in his four years in Philadelphia along with all three playoff games in 2017 on the way to their Super Bowl victory.
Winner: Vaitai, who won a Super Bowl ring and a new five year, $45 million contract with the Lions this offseason.