The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves with a few holes before the start of the new league year. They have needs at tackle, quarterback, wide receiver, and other positions. Though they believe in building through the draft, they will have to investigate other avenues as well.
A part of that will be exploring free agency and the NFL trade market once they get their cap number in compliance, as they find themselves to be over the projected NFL salary cap (which could fall between $240 to $242 million) by just over $16 million, according to Over The Cap. Omar Khan is a whiz with the salary cap, however, which means he should have them in good shape rather quickly.
Here are several trades the Steelers should consider in the 2024 NFL offseason.
Cam Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Position: Left tackle
There’s a possibility that Jaguars veteran offensive tackle Cam Robinson could be released to open salary cap room for the Jaguars to extend Trevor Lawrence, as he carries a pretty large cap number, and may not be in the Jaguars' future plans according to Jacksonville Florida Times-Union's Demetrius Harvey.
However, Robinson is still relatively young with a higher pedigree than current Steelers left tackle Dan Moore Jr. If the Steelers are serious about being a more dominant team in the run game from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, they have to get more physical at the left tackle position. Dan Moore Jr. is a liability at that spot. The question becomes what's the better avenue to go down? Do they decide to go after an experienced NFL veteran, or not?
This could be a situation where the Jaguars attempt to trade Robinson, then announce he’ll be released, only for the Steelers to swoop in and trade a 2025 late-round draft pick to avoid the waiver process. Unfortunately, as you may or may not know, experienced NFL tackles especially left tackles cost a pretty penny on the open market.
The Steelers haven’t made a reported decision on whether to return Broderick Jones to his stated preferred position at left tackle or to keep him at right tackle. The team could look to Robinson as an experienced left tackle and opt to keep Jones at right tackle. To acquire Robinson who’s in the last year of his contract would increase the Steelers salary cap by an estimated amount of $18,078,991 according to Over The Cap. The team would have the option of adding a void year to his contract or signing him to an extension to bring that number down.
Robinson ranked 17th among offensive tackles with a 78.8 pass-blocking grade in 2023 with an efficiency rating of 97.4 (12th), allowing a pressure on just 13 of 325 snaps this season.
Andrus Peat (New Orleans Saints)
Position: Right tackle
The New Orleans Saints annually seem to be in serious NFL salary cap trouble. Currently, the team is projected to be $80 million over the projected NFL salary cap in 2024 according to ESPN's Katherine Terrell. That’s going to force them to do a lot of restructuring to player contracts. However, restructuring only kicks the proverbial can down the road. So, very likely they will have to terminate a few contracts as well as trade away some assets.
It just so happens that the Steelers find themselves in need of a capable right tackle. Andrus Peat could be an option to fill that need should they desire to flip Jones back to left tackle, his natural position. Dan Moore Jr., the team’s current starter at left tackle — bless his heart — doesn't bring the physical presence Broderick Jones does.
Peat has an estimated salary cap number of $13,638,000 according to Over The Cap. That is not bad for a starting tackle in today’s NFL.
Zach Wilson (New York Jets)
Acquiring Zach Wilson would increase the Steelers' salary cap by an estimated amount of $9,283,353, according to Over the Cap. However, they could easily shrink that number by signing him to a one-year extension with no new money.
Honestly, while I wouldn’t love such an acquisition, I could certainly understand it. Wilson checks a lot of boxes that the Steelers look for. He has experience as a starter, high draft pedigree, is still fairly young, and he’s mobile. Wilson isn’t an attractive option at all, but, from a cost perspective, it would make some sense if they pursued this move.
The Steelers aren’t likely looking to replace Kenny Pickett, they are simply looking for some competition for him to raise his game. I fully expect Pickett to begin and end the 2024-2025 Steelers season as the starting quarterback.
Josh Palmer (Los Angeles Chargers)
Position: Wide receiver
Veteran wide receiver Diontae Johnson is in the last year of his contract with the Steelers. An extension doesn’t seem to be on the horizon, as the team hasn’t seemed to hint towards him being in their plans beyond 2024. The team is likely to draft a wide receiver, they could also look to bring in a veteran option. Chargers WR Josh Palmer could be an interesting, cheap flier via the trade market.
The Los Angeles Chargers hired Jim Harbaugh, so naturally, there will be some roster turnover. Palmer has never really seen his NFL career take off with the Chargers being buried behind Keenan Allen, then Mike Williams, then Quentin Johnston the team’s 2023 first-round pick. However, he’s performed well in his role as a backup, coming off a season where he posted career highs in receiving yards per game (58.1) and yards per reception (15.3) — solid depth for the price.
Acquiring Palmer would increase the Steelers' salary cap by an estimated $1,258,014 according to Over The Cap. The Steelers seem to like having an experienced veteran in the wide receiver room. Palmer could serve as a backup to Johnson and possibly replace him in 2025. The estimated cap hit is relatively small, it also would give the team a bigger number three receiver as opposed to Calvin Austin Jr.
What players do you hope Steelers GM Omar Khan will pursue in the trade market this offseason? Join our community at Behind The Steel Curtain and let us know in the comments!