Steelers should trade for Patriots EDGE Chase Winovich

Chase Winovich #50 of the New England Patriots. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Chase Winovich #50 of the New England Patriots. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots edge defender Chase Winovich might be available for trade, and the Pittsburgh Steelers should be calling.

Last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers boasted one of the most dominant defensive fronts in the league. They led the NFL in sacks, pressures, and quarterback knockdowns in 2020, according to Pro Football Reference, and their defense helped keep them in games.

While Defensive Player of the Year candidate T.J. Watt was a huge part of this, his wingman, Bud Dupree, was also coming off one of the most impressive seasons of his career. Unfortunately, an ACL tear ended Dupree’s 2020 season early. Even with his injury, we knew that Dupree wasn’t going to last long on the free-agent market, as pass rushers always seem to be snatched up quickly. After earning a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Tennesse Titans, the Steelers have some unanswered questions at outside linebacker.

Dupree was a staple to Pittsburgh’s defense and his athletic traits and skill set were a perfect compliment to Keith Butler’s blitz-happy 3-4 defense. Alex Highsmith had an impressive rookie season as a former third-round pick in 2020, and he will no doubt be asked to step into a bigger role this season. However, the former Charlotte walk-on shouldn’t be asked to handle Dupree’s duties alone, and the Steelers need to acquire more depth at the position.

Steelers should trade for Chase Winovich

In a very Bill Belichick way, the Patriots have already made an outrageous amount of moves this free agency period – one of which included forking up a big contract to former Ravens edge defender, Matthew Judon. He will no doubt slide into a full-time role for New England.

This move comes after the Patriots spent a pair of day-two picks on pass-rushing linebackers in the 2020 NFL Draft with Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings. With such a deep defensive front, there have been whispers that former third-round pick, Chase Winovich, could be available via trade, and the Steelers should be the first team to call.

Because of their current salary cap dilemma, Pittsburgh can’t afford to drop money into a quality free agent edge defender that could come in and help them out this year. That’s why trading for a player like Winovich makes so much sense. With still two years left on his rookie deal, Winovich will be making roughly $1.15 million per year through the 2022 season, according to Over the Cap. This is a cap hit that is more than manageable.

In addition, Pittsburgh clearly had an interest in drafting Winovich back in 2019, because of his skillset and athletic traits. Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert even took the Michigan pass rusher out to dinner following his Pro Day. Winovich posted some impressive speed numbers at the NFL Combine two years ago – running a 4.59 40-yard dash at 6’2 3/4” and 259 pounds while his 3-cone and short-shuttle tested above the 90th percentile.

There have been some reports that Winovich has clashed with some players and coaches in the past, so perhaps this would deter the Steelers from making a move. However, there is no question that Winovich has the traits and athletics to be a quality edge defender on Pittsburgh’s defense.

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Chase Winovich would probably man some sort of rotational role with Alex Highsmith on the right edge while occasionally spelling T.J. Watt of a handful of snaps per game. Overall, his addition would provide Pittsburgh with stability and upside at the position without costing them more than a mid-round pick. At the very least, the Steelers should be calling to inquire about a trade for Winovich.