The 2022 NFL offseason should be a busy one for the Steelers. On one hand, the Steelers should have a friendly amount of money to work with, but on the other hand, there is a lot of work to do to improve the roster. Joe Haden is unlikely to be back, Terrell Edmunds is a free agent, the middle linebacker position is uncertain, and the defensive line is getting older by the day. On the other side of the ball, the offensive line is still in ruins, and both James Washington and JuJu Smith-Schuster are free agents.
The Steelers were expected to receive a third-round compensatory pick for the loss of Bud Dupree, but it now looks as if it will be a fourth-round pick instead, as Dupree’s injury will prevent him from playing the required amount of snaps to award the Steelers third-round compensation. Pittsburgh is also without its original fourth-round pick after trading it for a fifth-rounder in the 2021 draft to select Isaiahh Loudermilk. While the Steelers could still gain a fifth-round compensatory pick for the loss of Matt Feiler, their original fifth-rounder is gone due to the preseason trade for Joe Schobert.
This all leads to one question: how can the Steelers add more draft capital? Today, we are going to take a look at three ways Kevin Colbert could realistically gain more draft capital and determine which scenario would be the best way for the Steelers to gain it.
Khan almost became the Texans GM last season, but with Houston deciding on Nick Caserio instead, Khan is still with the Steelers and expected to be one of the top targets for teams like the Bears, Giants, Raiders, and Jaguars, who could all be looking for a new general manager after the 2021 season concludes. Ryan Pace is likely gone after yet another disappointing season, and Dave Gettleman is most definitely gone, whether it be by being fired or simply retiring. Both Las Vegas and Jacksonville are in peculiar situations, as neither Mike Mayock nor Trent Baalke have had the final say in any major decisions that have taken place during their tenures. However, it would make more sense for both organizations to just clean house and start from scratch.
Last year, the NFL passed a rule to award teams that lose a minority assistant coach or front office executive to a team that hires the assistant or executive as a head coach or general manager. Both the team that hires the person and the team that loses the person will receive the two third-round compensatory picks, one in that year’s draft and one in the following draft. With the Steelers now unlikely to get a third rounder for Bud Dupree, getting two thirds for Khan would come in handy.
Many will undermine the value of an extra third-round pick in comparison to the loss of a salary cap guru, but in a draft that is deep at cornerback and wide receiver, the Steelers could use an extra day two pick and take advantage of the depth at positions of need. Plus, the loss of Omar Khan is unlikely to affect life after Kevin Colbert, as The Athletic reported back in 2019 that Brandon Hunt is the in-house favorite to replace Colbert, not Khan. While Khan’s salary cap knowledge cannot be overlooked, getting two third-round picks for his leaving would not be the worst thing in the world. Salary cap experts are not near as difficult to replace as a talent evaluator, and the extra draft capital would go a long way toward restocking the roster in prompt fashion.
Kevin Colbert has never been a fan of trading back, but if the Steelers do not go the route of a quarterback in this less-than-stellar quarterback class, it would make all the sense in the world to trade back. The Steelers have too many needs and not enough picks to fill them, and moving back a few spots is not likely to lower the quality of player the Steelers get. Let us not forget that if the they pass on a quarterback in this draft, they will likely be looking for one in 2023. Thus, adding capital in next year’s draft could be beneficial too, as the Steelers would then have more trade ammunition to move up for their guy in next year’s class.
One storyline that is yet to be determined is where the Steelers are slotted to pick. If they pick within the 12-20 range as is currently projected, this team is in a prime position to trade down, as that range is exactly when the top quarterbacks are expected to come off the board. The trade-down market for teams inside the top ten may be down this year, but if your team is picking in the middle of the first round, get excited, because your team is one of the fortunate few who will likely get offers to move back and acquire more picks.
Trading back is something I clamor for every spring, but this year, I will not be on that island by myself. If you are not sold on the 2022 quarterback class, this should be the outcome you hope and pray for.
Trading a Player
A lot has to happen before we can begin making ideal trade projections, but the possibility of trading a player in exchange for picks should definitely be considered, especially if Ben Roethlisberger retires and the Steelers officially become a team in transition. Barring a trade for an Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, or Russell Wilson, which nobody is expecting, Steelers fans cannot expect elite play from whoever is under center in 2022, whether that be a rookie or a middle-of-the-road veteran.
This means that expectations for the Steelers will more than likely be lower in 2022 than in previous years. While this team still has a handful of incredibly talented players, there are too many positions that need to be improved for the Steelers to become serious contenders. Now, I would not purposely sell the farm, but there are several players the Steelers would probably be wise to move on from and see what they can get in return.
Stephon Tuitt is one of my favorite current Steelers, but what is his status? Is he seriously injured? Obviously, the death of a brother is something difficult to face, but there has to be more to his season-long absence than just that. It is unclear as to how big his market would be, but Tuitt is only 28 years old and is coming off a season in which he recorded 11 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. A day two pick could still likely be acquired for him.
I do not see the Steelers keeping the cupboard completely empty at cornerback, but there were trade rumors surrounding Cameron Sutton back in 2020 before the trade deadline. Would the Steelers try to move him? Because of the amount of teams in need of cornerback help, would that drive his price up? Only time will tell. Perhaps a guy like Chris Wormley would generate a day three pick. The point being, if the Steelers are in a state of transition and want to gain extra draft capital, there are players that could realistically be moved.
While I, personally, would welcome any of these three outcomes, I would prefer gaining the extra draft capital via an Omar Khan promotion and by trading back. If there is a ‘can’t miss’ prospect when the Steelers are on the clock, you obviously take him, but the idea should definitely be welcomed by fans who are not sold on the 2022 quarterback class.
Which way(s) would you like to see the Steelers gain extra draft capital? Which players do you think the Steelers could trade and get a reasonable haul for? Be sure to light up the comment section with your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft!