The Steelers were both buyers and sellers on the NFL’s trade deadline earlier this week, securing William Jackson from the Washington Commanders and shipping Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears in exchange for what can be a very interesting 2nd round draft pick next April’s NFL Rookie Draft.
The Claypool move was not much of a shock and was rumored heavily in the halls of many NFL GM offices for the last month, but his destination did catch many off guard. The Bears, who’d seemingly come out of nowhere after appearing to be a seller, turned into a big buyer, sending back what could be a top ten 2nd round pick.
Why is this important? Well, if the Steelers land in the bottom ten or so of teams by season’s end, they could be positioned well to reload at various positions. This team has many glaring holes and a top ten first rounder and two top ten second rounders could help. It also gives them the draft capital they may need to move up to grab a player the team covets (paging, Mr. Will Anderson, Jr.).
Claypool’s size and potential will be missed, creating opportunities for some “down the line” guys and the return of a rookie everyone’s been buzzing to see take the field, but let’s face it, Claypool had flashed talent, but save for a handful of games, never reached or maintained it. Perhaps a change of scenery and a clean slate will help him, but the Steelers are more in need of the dry powder for next year’s draft and continued rebuild around rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett.
The Jackson move was more curious, until you look a bit deeper. For what remains on his contract this season, the Steelers will only be paying for a small portion of his salary, and in all fairness, swapping conditional late round picks in out-years with the Commanders was more of a salary dump that a “football trade” for Washington.
Yes, the Steelers do need help at corner and Jackson’s familiarity with the coaching staff and the division can’t hurt. And if it’s to be believed that he was playing out of position in DC, perhaps a return to a friendly system and coaching staff is the right formula to help him get on track.
However, there are rumors floating out there that the Steelers feel that they’ve got Joe Haden part deux. If that’s the case, this could be the reason the Steelers felt the need to buy when they could have had a much bigger fire sale in front of Acrisure earlier this week.
But their most curious move was a move that didn’t happen—the Steelers didn’t trade quarterback Mason Rudolph, who’s buried at 3rd string (barring injuries) and on the last year of his deal. If the NFL blue checks on twitter are to be believed, Rudolph could have fetched as high as a fifth rounder or as low as a seventh rounder in next year’s draft.
I know it is not much, but there’s plenty of ways to package picks to move up and back for targeted role players and or steals. Having an extra pick next year instead of a guy that will likely only be on the sideline or press box would have, or perhaps, should have been preferred.
Overall Grade: B