Steelers no longer have a desperate need at CB after trading for Donte Jackson

Cornerback just moved down in the pecking order when it comes to the Steelers' biggest roster needs.

Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (26)
Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (26) / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Diontae Johnson trade was a shocking move, especially when it was revealed that in exchange for him, the Steelers were receiving veteran cornerback Donte Jackson. In what is essentially a rare player-for-player swap (there were some minor draft picks moved as well), the move doesn’t look like a great one for the team.

Cornerback was deemed as one of the biggest needs for the Steelers ahead of this offseason. For many fans, that notion hasn’t changed even with the addition of Jackson. All things considered and looking at the roster as is, there is a real chance he is the only notable cornerback added this year.

That isn’t a horrible thing either.

While not an elite player, Jackson has been a fine starter when on the field and has flashed greatness at times. He has also had stretches of bad play. He is streaky, but overall, serviceable as a starter.

What should the Steelers do at cornerback moving forward?

Frankly, I think this is the last major name that should be added to the outside cornerback room. The quartet of him, Joey Porter, Darius Rush, and Cory Trice are fine in my books.

Want to add someone on a minimum deal? Fine. Do you think there is a great value pick on Day 3 of the NFL Draft? Go for it. I just can’t buy into adding anything much more than that.

This is for a wide variety of reasons. For starters, the money that Jackson is owed means he should be the early favorite to start next year. Even if/when the contract is reworked, he won’t be the cheapest player. Given his play, I am fine with that. The goal should be for Porter to be the guy and for Jackson to be a dependable second option.

I don’t think that is unattainable. While Jackson isn’t always consistent, he has speed (something this defense has lacked) and a track record of making big plays. He won’t have to be perfect, but a few interceptions and only the occasional bad play is fine for a second cornerback.

This also allows you to give some extra burn to Trice and Rush next year. Neither will be forced into a role that they aren’t ready for, but if they shine then Jackson can be a one-and-done player with the team. If neither step up, assuming a reworked deal is in place, Jackson can retain his role as a stopgap cornerback option.

You also can’t really afford to draft a cornerback early now. While there is still a lot of free agency left to go, this team has a huge list of needs.

Center, tackle, receiver, and safety highlight the top needs that will have to be addressed early with instant-impact players. A defensive line and a slot defender could also use a boost. Again, if a good value presents itself at cornerback the Steelers shouldn’t ignore it, but that needs to be on day three now.

Do I think the Steelers lost this trade? Yeah, but it isn’t as bad as many are making it out to be. You can get at least a solid year of production out of Jackson, and it seems clear that Johnson wanted out of Pittsburgh.

The Steelers likely weren’t getting more than a fourth or fifth-round pick for him at this point, and that still would have left a hole at receiver with few resources to fill it. The only way Pittsburgh was winning a Johnson trade value-wise was if they didn’t trade him.

Next. 6 receivers the Steelers must sign to replace Diontae Johnson. 6 receivers the Steelers must sign to replace Diontae Johnson. dark

At least you can move cornerback down your list of needs for now, even if that isn’t the case long-term. I’m not expecting a huge season from Jackson, but the people acting like he is completely washed and worthless are also off base. He’s fine, and he provides this team a Band-Aid heading into next season.