Should Steelers make players available for trade in effort to rebuild?

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers are off to an abysmal start to the 2021 season. Should they trade away players and start compiling draft compensation?

I hate to say that I saw this one coming from a mile away. I was not in favor of Ben Roethlisberger returning for another season in 2021, and I think the Pittsburgh Steelers would have been wise to move on from him during the offseason – cap hit and all.

Through the first three games of the season this year, things couldn’t have gone much worse. While Pittsburgh kicked things off with an upset against the Bills in Buffalo, their defense played outstanding and they required a special teams touchdown to shift the tides.

Offensively, this team is an absolute trainwreck, and unfortunately, I think their issues lie well below the surface. Pittsburgh’s offensive line has been pitiful to begin the season (which is what we should have expected, considering Kevin Colbert hasn’t truly invested in the position in ten years). They are a big reason why the Steelers have struggled so badly to begin the year.

Most importantly, Ben Roethlisberger has arguably been one of the most detrimental players in all of football to his team this year. Outside some really poor rookie performances, there’s a case to be made that he is the worst starting quarterback in the NFL right now.

Now pushing 40 years old, it’s unwise to assume that Big Ben is going to miraculously turn things around in what is sure to be his final season. Though the Steelers made some bad decisions with voidable-year contracts that unnecessarily pushed more dead money into the future, it’s not too late to start building for the future.

Steelers should consider trading veterans for draft capital

With the way things are heading this season, it’s hard to believe that the Steelers will even have a shot at the playoffs. Currently, they have just +1200 odds to win the AFC North, courtesy of WynnBET, and it’s hard to believe they could top 8 wins this year considering their schedule. What’s most important to consider is that this team probably has no chance at a Super Bowl run even if they were somehow able to squeak into the playoffs this year.

Considering all of these factors, it might be time to start thinking about trading away some veteran players for future draft capital. Though the Steelers will have more money to work with next offseason, there are many players who are unlikely to return to the team, and it would be better to get some draft compensation out of them than nothing at all.

JuJu Smith-Schuster is a perfect example. Though you could make a case that the Steelers will try to sign JuJu to an extension, it’s likely that he will hit the market again and try to earn his paycheck elsewhere in 2022. The former second-round pick is a quality receiving option and might be able to fetch a third-round pick from a contenting team via trade.

In addition, trading players who are unlikely to return like CB Joe Haden, WR James Washington, or maybe even SS Terrell Edmunds could make sense under these circumstances.

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The question the Steelers need to ask themselves is would they rather keep some of their starters and role players for the next few months and hope to somehow become a relevant team again, or would they rather stockpile draft compensation to truly rebuild in 2022. My vote is for the latter.