One man’s trash is another man’s trash but the second man will take it because he’s broke. That’s right, scratched and wobbly tables are cheaper than going to IKEA.
The Steelers traded for Vikings offensive lineman Jesse Davis, 31 on September 15, on Tuesday, while releasing offensive lineman Joe Haeg, 29, in a move to do something for a struggling offensive line.
Why did I describe both Davis and Haeg as “offensive linemen” instead of breaking their trades down to specific positions? Because they both have position flexibility. In layman’s terms, that means they can play any position along the offensive line, except center, but they’re not very good at playing any of them.
The reason I listed both players’ ages is because it seems like Davis is simply a slightly older version of Haeg, who Pittsburgh signed to a two-year, $4.6 million contract during the 2021 offseason. However, judging by the thousands of comments and Tweets that followed the Davis deal, you’d have thought Pittsburgh just acquired John Hannah (Zack Martin for you youngins out there).
The reason I say that Davis is the next Joe Haeg is because the Steelers only traded a conditional 2025 seventh-round pick to Minnesota. What the hell is a conditional seventh-round pick? What are the conditions? If Davis doesn’t work out, does Pittsburgh have to send the Vikings an actual six-pack instead of a draft choice?
Davis was clearly acquired for depth. He’s the new Haeg. He’s someone who will fill in at tackle or guard as needed.
He might even be a bit cheaper than Haeg—Davis will have a $1,450,000 cap hit in 2022.
Sure, Davis, a 2015 UDFA out of Idaho, has started 72 games—all with the Dolphins—but valuable offensive linemen don’t come with $1,450,000 cap hits, and if they did, they damn sure wouldn’t get traded for conditional seventh-round picks three years down the road.
Face it, the Steelers are grasping at straws with this offensive line problem. They’re replacing depth with what they hope will be better depth. If the starting five doesn’t get its act together, maybe Davis can step in at some position—left tackle, if I were a betting man—and get the team through the rest of the 2022 campaign.
After that, Pittsburgh can finally start to address the offensive line with real money in free agency and some premium picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
We can sit here and play “Who the Steelers Should Have Selected In Recent Drafts Instead” until we’re blue in the face (center Creed Humphrey is the poster child for that game), but Pittsburgh has picked some really good non-offensive linemen in recent years.
Also, Alex Leatherwood, the 17th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, just got cut by the Raiders. My point? Drafting offensive linemen with premium picks may not necessarily have solved the Steelers' current quality hogs problem.
And they may have missed out on some gems at other positions—including Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kenny Pickett and George Pickens.
It took the Steelers about half a decade to solve its last offensive line crisis (2008-2013), and it hasn’t even been two years since the awesome unit of 2014-2018 was collectively claimed by Father Time at some point during the 2020 campaign.
We likely have another season or two to go before this offensive line isn’t the talk of the talk show and podcast world.
Face it, Steelers fans: Alan Faneca isn’t walking through that door. Jeff Hartings isn’t walking through that door. Maurkice Pouncey isn’t walking through that door. Ramon Foster isn’t walking through that door.
Jesse Davis is knocking on that door, and that’s only because he can’t seem to find the clearly visible doorbell.