June 1st is a pretty big date on the NFL calendar. Even though it has no official title, the first of June signifies a shift in how traded or released players contracts are weighed against the salary cap. Pro Football Network probably breaks it down best:
“If a player is released or traded after June 1, no further prorated money accelerates onto the cap. Instead, that money accelerates onto the following year’s cap.”
Long story short, (most) players are cheaper to release after June 1st and if you trade for player they will cost you less as well.
So that means, this coming Tuesday, potential handshake deals between General Managers will be made public. It can also mean teams trying to fill holes on their rosters can become aggressive in the free agent market for discount costs. While it’s inherently possible that not one trade gets released on the date, it will signify that moves are now more likely to be made. In an offseason featuring a lowered salary cap I would expect this unofficial trade window to be filled with a number of moves.
No move bigger will be of that of Julio Jones getting dealt from the Atlanta Falcons. After Shannon Sharpe threw Jones under the bus on live television, we know it is confirmed Jones’ time with the Falcons has come to an end. Since then, nearly every star receiver in the league has been making pitches to Jones’ camp to get a deal done with their respected clubs. Even Steelers sophomore receiver Chase Claypool made a statement when a TMZ reporter jammed a camera in his face. But, to be fair, it’s almost impossible for the Pittsburgh Steelers to fit the contract of Julio Jones onto the books.
"I would love him in Pittsburgh... We're stacked, but you can never get too many superstars."— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) May 29, 2021
Chase Claypool says he'd welcome Julio Jones open arms if he came to Pittsburgh
(via @TMZ_Sports) pic.twitter.com/jjIFNy3BVC
But what about other deals? Before I mention any other players I think it is important to mention the Steelers current draft pick predicament. In the 2022 NFL Draft the Steelers no longer have a 4th round pick (traded to Miami for a 2021 fifth round pick, Isaiahh Loudermilk) or a fifth round pick (traded to the Jets for Avery Williamson and a 2022 seventh round pick). As far as compensatory selections go, the Steelers are only due a third and fifth round pick but could potentially pick up another sixth rounder if Joe Haeg doesn't play or gets cut. So, all in all, the Steelers 2022 draft picks go as followed: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd (comp), 5th (comp), 6th, 7th, 7th (Jets) —with the potential of another 6th round pick.
If something were to happen and the Steelers lose out on there compensatory selection haul, they would be faced with a massive wait between their third and sixth round picks before selections. This alone tells me they won't be making any deals using 2022 draft capital.
BUT! I still think the Steelers could make a deal using future picks, a swap, or simply player for player, but the Steelers are still a team in need of some minor tweaks. This thought stems from the Steelers being one of the finalists to land Ryan Kerrigan’s services. It’s also weighted by defensive coordinator, Keith Butler’s post draft interview when he said “our free agency is not over”. After both circumstances the Steelers still haven't made a move, and this team is still in desperate need of a third outside linebacker.
Some names I think they could look to target include: the golden goose, Pittsburgh native, Chase Winovich who will be placed into a reserve role with the Patriots after the signings of Matt Judon, Kyle Van Noy, and the drafting of Ronnie Perkins, Josh Uche, and Anfernee Jennings. Another name that jumps to mind is Uchenna Nwosu from the Los Angeles Chargers, Nwosu didn't quite gel across from Joey Bosa in replacement of an injured Melvin Ingram and after the Chargers drafted Chris Rumph and signed Kyler Fackrell the Chargers might be in the market to move on.
Long story short, the Steelers won't likely be big players in the trade market due to a limited amount of draft picks. However, I have to assume they will be adding an outside linebacker at some point and a trade would make the most sense at this point, given how they haven't pulled the trigger on any other free agents.
But what do you think? Will the Steelers strike a deal after June 1st? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.