The Steelers seemingly can't stop making moves.
First came the trade to snag Devin Bush in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Steelers shipped their 2019 first-round pick (20th overall), their second-round pick (52nd overall) and 2020's third-round pick to the Broncos to complete the deal.
That marked a heavy investment — but there was plenty more to come. The 2019 season rolled around, and the Steelers traded Josh Dobbs to the Jaguars for a fifth-round pick in 2020. Then in a bigger, almost unheard-of move by the organization came this:
- Minkah Fitzpatrick
- 2020 fourth-round pick
- 2021 seventh-round pick
Steelers trade away:
- 2020 first-round pick
- 2020 fifth-round pick
- 2021 sixth-round pick
Fresh out of Miami, Fitzpatrick stepped in and made an immediate impact, registering a forced fumble, an interception, a quarterback hit and five tackles in the Steelers' 24-20 loss to the 49ers in Week 3. But many still felt the cost — primarily that first-round pick in 2020 — was too much.
Tuesday, the Steelers sent some fans over the edge with a far more low-key trade, sending their second 2020 fifth-round pick to the Seahawks in exchange for tight end Nick Vannett.
One thing became clear: The Steelers are trying to salvage this 0-3, slow-starting season. They believe in Mason Rudolph. And they're comfortable sacrificing a part of their future to prove it.
Taken one by one, it does seem the Steelers have given up a lot — potentially too much — throughout these moves. But what's really left? I tracked the moves and right here is the Steelers' current position for the 2020 draft:
The biggest hit — as expected — is losing that first-round pick. But Fitzpatrick — a 22-year-old, top-10 talent who has already proven he can play in the NFL and on this Steelers team — is worth it.
The Steelers still have their second-round pick. They will likely receive a compensatory pick in the third for losing Le'Veon Bell. That makes up for the lost pick traded to the Broncos in the 2019 Draft. They'll have two fourth-round picks thanks to the Fitzpatrick trade.
Yes, there's no pick in the fifth, as they essentially traded Dobbs for Vannett then gave their fifth-round pick to Miami in the Fitzpatrick deal. That's exactly what many called for the team to do during the offseason. Just because it happened now, when the team is 0-3 and really needs a tight end with Vance McDonald injured, it's a problem? I'm not seeing it.
Here are the Steelers' most recent fifth-round picks:
- Zach Gentry (2019)
- Marcus Allen, Jaylen Samuels (2018)
- Brian Allen (2017)
- Jesse James (2015)
- Shaquille Richardson, Wesley Johnson (2014)
- Terry Hawthorne (2013)
- Chris Rainey (2012)
If you sound like an owl right now saying "who" a whole lot, I don't blame you one bit. The Steelers don't exactly do their best work in the fifth round, a point evidenced by this recent history.
So I look at all this, and I don't see the massive blow-up or "mortgaging of their future" many fans and critics alike currently see. I see a team making a push and refusing to pack it in on a 2019 that, despite starting out 0-3, is still very much salvageable.
The Ravens are 2-1 but have defeated two winless teams in the Cardinals and the Dolphins.
The Browns are 1-2, beating the winless Jets. The Bengals are 0-3 and play the Steelers Monday night at Heinz Field.
Take all this in. Look at what's left for the Steelers in the 2020 Draft there above, six picks total. Understand that Fitzpatrick was an investment for both now and for the future. Know that Vannett helps bolster the team's weakest, thinnest offensive position.
These aren't traditional moves by the Steelers, that is certain.
But they're for the best.
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