Like it always seems to do, the NFL trade deadline once again included a flurry of moves in the waning hours and minutes before time ticked away to get deals done. Former first-overall pick Chase Young was traded to the already-stacked 49ers, while the Commanders dealt their other pass rusher, Montez Sweat, to the Bears.
These were just a few of the trades that took place just before the deadline. Last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled off a shocking trade as they shipped WR Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears as time nearly expired on the trade deadline. This time around, Omar Khan and Mike Tomlin were apparently content to let the clock set on the NFL trade deadline without making a move.
The evening before the deadline, the Steelers were reported to be in the running for Bears cornerback, Jaylon Johnson. The veteran cornerback and former second-round reportedly wanted out of Chicago gaining zero movement in contract negotiations. The Bears were supposedly holding out for the best offer but ultimately decided not to trade Johnson.
This was one of two players who fans recently brought up when it came to Steelers trade talks. The other was Broncos All-Pro cornerback, Pat Surtain II (though this one seemed like a pipe dream).
In the final moments before the deadline, it really looked like Pittsburgh stood a good shot at getting something done for a veteran cornerback. The Steelers recognized that they have a major hole at the CB position. While rookie Joey Porter Jr. looks the part and was recently inserted into the starting lineup, the combination of Patrick Peterson and Levi Wallace proved to be a disaster in the first half of the season. Neither cornerback seems to have enough gas left in the tank at this stage of their careers.
Steelers will work with what they have on the roster
Unfortunately, Mike Tomlin and Teryl Austin are just going to have to work with what they have on the roster for the remainder of the 2023 season. It's worth noting that the team recently signed rookie CB Darius Rush from the Chiefs' practice squad. Perhaps he get a chance to prove his worth on the field.
Other than that, the Steelers are simply going to have to wait until the 2024 offseason before they can make any significant changes to their roster. In addition to the hole at the boundary cornerback position, Pittsburgh also has major needs at center, right tackle, and slot cornerback.
Personally, because the Steelers are a middle-of-the-road team this year, I think it would have been wise to go all in or all out (like we saw some of these teams do at the NFL trade deadline). By doing this, they could have either maximized their window now or traded some assets to load up on future draft capital to rebuild this team the right way.
Standing pat on their current 2023 roster may prove to be the wrong move, but only time will tell. There's only so much time to get deals done at the NFL trade deadline, and Omar Khan and Mike Tomlin weren't able to put pen to paper on a Steelers trade this time around.