What, were they supposed to cancel the charter to San Francisco?
Look, I'm not a believer in the 2019 Steelers, either. Not anymore. Not after the 0-2 start. Not after they've failed to find any semblance of identity. Certainly not after seeing the franchise quarterback lost, soon to be supplanted by a kid making his first NFL start.
But I'm even less of a believer in shutting down shop.
So when word hit late Monday night that the local club had come out on top of the Minkah Fitzpatrick sweepstakes -- acquiring him in a trade that sent the Dolphins their first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft -- my first reaction was one that basically mimicked, of all things, that oft-used Ben Roethlisberger meme:
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) September 17, 2019
And my second reaction was almost as simple: Well of course they did. Because that's how they lace 'em up, from Art Rooney II right down the ladder: Every season represents a chance to win a championship, and any rebuilding is required to take place in the offseason, not once the football flies. And any notion that they should fear having just given up a top-10 pick -- you know, winning six or fewer games in 2019 -- wow, I wouldn't want people like that running my favorite team.
My third reaction, though, was the one that really resonated: This is a good trade regardless.
Fitzpatrick's only 22. He was the No. 11 overall pick a year ago, and he was a regular, effective, occasionally dynamic rookie for the Dolphins after that with 11 starts, 80 tackles, nine passes defended and two picks:
— DK Pittsburgh Sports (@DKPghSports) September 17, 2019
He was bounced from position to position by new coach Brian Flores to account for the Dolphins' countless shortcomings, prompting Fitzpatrick to demand a trade after that 59-10 opening slaughter by the Ravens. He and his agent, Joel Segal, were granted permission to try to work out a trade, 20-plus teams reached out, and the Steelers pulled the longest straw.
This secondary needs help. Not just now. Next year. Year after that when Joe Haden's gone. And it doesn't need help at any one spot but at all of them. That's been exposed yet again by Tom Brady and Russell Wilson picking apart every blade of grass beyond a linebacker these past two games and, in the process, I think, unfairly stunting both Devin Bush and Terrell Edmunds.
Put it another way: If the Steelers would've wound up with the No. 11 overall pick next year, who'd have objected if they'd have targeted a corner?
Wait, no, that's not how I wanted to word that. Let me try again: Who'd have objected, given the miserable history between Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin of uncovering corners with high picks, if they'd mythically invest that pick in a legit talent with an NFL year of experience and film to his name but still at draft age?
The Steelers sent the strongest conceivable signal that they'll compete toward 2019, that they believe in Mason Rudolph, that they value their veterans, that they can overcome this start to contend for a playoff spot. That's nice.
They made a trade that bodes well now, bodes better for the future. That's nicer.
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