With the trade deadline here, the Steelers could be players either way as sellers or buyers. While this team would make sense to sell given their issues, a rumored name to the team has heated up as of this morning. Jaylon Johnson of the Bears requested a trade, and the expectation is that he will be moved today.
While trading away draft picks when you are struggling isn’t the best move, Johnson could be an exception to this idea. He is still extremely young, has developed into a top starter in the league, and plays a position that the Steelers need help at.
What would a Johnson trade look like for the Steelers?
This is the hardest part of this whole deal to figure out. While a great talent, Johnson is also playing in the last year of his rookie deal. That chips away at value as the Steelers would need to hand out a big extension right after the trade or plan on using the franchise tag this offseason.
On top of this, Johnson has made it clear that he doesn’t want to be in Chicago anymore. He had trade rumors in the offseason, and this request cemented him as an outgoing player. Even if he doesn’t get dealt, the odds of him returning in the offseason on an extension are slim.
While the player himself is likely worth a second or third-round pick, I think you could potentially get away with a day-three pick for him. At the bare minimum, a swap of picks could be in the works such as sending a second-round pick and getting Johnson and a third back. The point is, I think he could be had for a fair price.
I would be hesitant only for the contract status. The last thing this team can afford is to waste draft picks on a player that won’t be around long-term. Even with the Johnson addition, this team isn’t making a Super Bowl push, so adding Johnson would be a move with the long term in mind.
Having him and a rising Joey Porter on the same roster could be big. Johnson would be the de facto top option while Porter continues to grow this season. Patrick Peterson can fill in as the stop-gap outside option and move around the secondary as needed. Levi Wallace can take the bench.
Long term, this gives you two potentially elite cornerbacks and one of those elite names on a rookie deal in Porter. This would turn the cornerback room around in a major way. There are some questions about the contract that need to be answered, but Johnson would be a huge get for this defense.
The Steelers must be calling Chicago to see what the asking price is. If the compensation is reasonable and the team is confident in locking Johnson up long-term, then by all means trade for him. Even if it doesn’t move the needle this season, it could pay dividends down the road for this team.