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A Letter From the Editor: Trades, trades and more trades

The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base is infatuated with trades...

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

When I went to bed Friday night, I expected to wake up Saturday morning and see the usual news regarding the NFL Scouting Combine. Players who tested well, players who tested poorly, draft stock which was elevated and that which is now on the decline.

To my surprise, I woke up the a myriad of notifications regarding the Steelers reportedly being in the sweepstakes for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

It should first be mentioned how a vast majority of the fan base doesn’t understand Rodgers is not a free agent. He is still under contract, which means the Steelers would have to package a trade for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

While those rumors regarding the Steelers’ trading for Rodgers have almost all be debunked for multiple reasons, it did get a lot of fans wondering about what a trade for a player of Rodgers’ caliber might look like.

Most certainly a first round pick, but what kind of future draft capital would it take? And how much money would the team receiving Rodgers have to take on of his hefty contract?

All hypotheticals aside, the topic of this isn’t about Rodgers going to the Steelers, but about trades in general. Too often fans get stuck in either mock draft mode, or Madden mode. In other words, they get stuck in fantasy land.

So many love to run those fancy NFL Draft simulators, and pretend they are Kevin Colbert for the three day selection process.

“What’s that? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would like to trade up in the first round? Sure, I’m listening. Oh, you want to swap first round picks, give us your second and next year’s third?! Deal!”

In fantasy land this is ideal, and also something, in reality, which would never happen. No, not how the Buccaneers would want to trade up in the first round of the draft, but the compensation the Steelers would receive.

Another favorite of mine is when fans believe players are worth more than what they truly are. Let me explain...

Hypothetical Situation: The Steelers would like to unload Stephon Tuitt for salary cap reasons, among others.

Fan Response: I think the Steelers should trade Tuitt for a first and second round pick.

Reality: An NFL team is going to want to trade a first and a second round pick for a player who didn’t play one snap in 2021, has an unknown knee injury and his emotional status after the loss of his brother in a hit-and-run accident has many questioning whether he wants to play the game anymore.

Show me a General Manager (GM) who would sign off on this trade, and I’ll show you how I have some ocean front property to sell you.

Trades happen in the NFL, they happen every year, but those trades are few and far between. Look at what the Steelers had to settle for with the Raiders when they unloaded Antonio Brown.

A 3rd and a 5th round pick...for the best wide receiver in the game.

Think about that for a second.

I am not against the Steelers wheeling and dealing their way throughout the offseason, but we also should keep a realistic outlook on expectations. The best way for the Steelers to improve their roster this offseason is through traditional means. By traditional means I am referring to Free Agency and the NFL Draft. With salary cap space on their side, for once, the team can make additions to the roster without unloading valuable draft capital to do so.

In 2019 the Steelers traded a 2020 first round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick. This trade sent shockwaves throughout the fan base, but I don’t believe for a second it set a precedent for the way the organization handles their business. No one in their right mind would want to undo that trade with Miami, but even team president Art Rooney II has said how difficult it was to let their top pick go to get Fitzpatrick.

To sum this all up, keep a cool head about yourself and a realistic eye open when you are looking at potential trades, in any fashion. After all, this isn’t fantasy land. This is real life.

(Note: The Letter From the Editor column runs every Sunday morning during the Steelers offseason.)