3 not-so-great alternatives to Steelers paying Alex Highsmith

  • What would the Steelers have received in a Highsmith trade?
  • Was a franchise tag in 2024 a viable option?

Steelers, Alex Highsmith
Steelers, Alex Highsmith / Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports
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1. Steelers trade Highsmith for a second-round pick

If the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't extend Highsmith, the only other option that would have made at least some sense would have been to trade him for a high draft pick. Highsmith will be 26 years old this season, is coming off a career year, and plays a premium position. Despite the fact that he's in a contract year, there are teams who would give up a second-round pick for his services (and possibly more).

This would be somewhat enticing. Just recently, we already saw Omar Khan turn Chase Claypool into the 32nd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft -- the pick that was ultimately used to require Joey Porter Jr. While there's no guarantee that the rookie the Steelers would take with that pick will be as good as Highsmith, they would be getting a young, quality prospect at a much cheaper price over the next four years than what Highsmith would be.

Considering that the Steelers are already spending the most money in the league on the defensive side of the ball, this would have been worth considering. The biggest argument against trading Highsmith is that it would hurt their current window for success. With guys like T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, and Minkah Fitzpatrick in their prime, they certainly didn't want to run that risk.

Next. One player from every NFL team Steelers must try to obtain. One player from every NFL team Steelers must try to obtain. dark

At the end of the day, the Pittsburgh Steelers made the right move by locking Alex Highsmith up for the future. Though we might not agree with how much he was paid, there wasn't a lot of wiggle room in contract negotiations with how good his production was in 2023. Let's hope he proves to be a cornerstone piece for the future.