Losing possibly the best wide receiver in football is hard to recover from. Unless you have the capability of compensating, which the Pittsburgh Steelers do.
James Washington needs to find his confidence. Eli Rogers needs to resign. The Pittsburgh Steelers lose a lot by trading Antonio Brown, but it is possible they get better.
Wie receivers don’t win Super Bowls. There are arguably no pass catchers better than the Steelers’ 30-year-old All-Pro. It’s a statement argued for years, and over-excused time and time again. Simple fact is quiet teams win and the Pittsburgh Steelers have a chance to become silent.
It’s easy to talk about the off-the-field issues for paragraphs. Going on and on about the tweeting, Facebook live, sideline tantrums and constant distractions, but losing a player like Brown is about much more than what’s happening in the locker room.
This all starts with James Washington. The rookie appeared to final gain some traction towards the end of the season, after a slow and concerning start to his first NFL campaign.
Washington has the talent to be a starting wide receiver in this league. A speedy wideout with some of the strongest hands in sports, who excited all of Oklahoma in college. Not all players are instant stars.
If Washington becomes at least a third option he’s a replacement. He’s not Antonio Brown, but he’s capable of playing an impactful role which is all Ben Roethlisberger has asked from his receiver.
Once Brown is dealt, if he’s dealt, the Steelers first priority needs to be re-signing Eli Rogers. He proved through the team’s final three games that he’s a reliable member of this core. His chemistry with Ben has been strong since his first healthy season on the team. If he can stay healthy he’s someone this team wants around.
Then, it’s time to watch JuJu Smith-Schuster. Some have suddenly started to downgrade the second-year receiver’s play this season, claiming he’s no longer a No. 1 wide receiver. Roethlisberger couldn’t even deny he was a No. 1 wide receiver.
Here’s a little reminder.
The man won Team MVP, that wasn’t just because everyone felt bad. He isn’t a top wide receiver yet, but he’s close. As the real No. 1 in 2019, he becomes a top five wide out in the NFL.
Finally, you include compensation. Antonio Brown is worth a first and second-round pick and some. For some reason, there’s a particular interest in San Fransisco. Brown has unfollowed the Steelers’ Instagram account and followed the 49ers’, after receiving and responding to George Kittle tweet.
So, lets say John Lynch gets a phone call, or makes a phone call, and Brown is suddenly on the market. If they were interested in sending a package “better” than Chicago’s two first-rounders, you’d have to imagine they’d be willing to send the same to Pittsburgh for Jimmy Garoppolo’s newest weapon.
Giving credit where credit is due, Brandon Kring, amongst a rundown of everything happening, going to happen and reacting to what’s happening and going to happen, gave the idea – a first, a second and Ahkello Witherspoon.
Suddenly, the Steelers have two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a new cornerback. Say thank you to Coty Sensabaugh. Acknowledge a great career in Pittsburgh and stepping in when the team needed him and clear the cap space. Draft DeAndre Baker and you now have Joe Haden, Ahkello Witherspoon, DeAndre Baker, Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton.
Cornerback problem, solved.
You find an athletic inside linebacker or edge rusher. At the 20th pick, you find Montez Sweat or Devin White. In the second-round, draft the other and find Carl Granderson or Tre Lamar. Then all major defensive holes are filled with another second-round pick to look for a safety or guard.
It’s clearing the air and restarting. This team has as much talent as any team in the NFL, but talent doesn’t win Super Bowls. Remove all the noise and it’s easier to concentrate on football. It isn’t like missing the playoffs is a standard this team is afraid to fall beneath.
The time for change is now, and the Steelers’ most valuable and moveable option is coincidently their loudest.