It’s been an extremely busy few days for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And the future could be a lot rosier than some would think even without Antonio Brown.
This just in. The sky is not falling over the western part of Pennsylvania.
Yes, for a franchise that has the second-most victories in the NFL this decade, the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t had the look of a winner over the last few months. There was the team failing to make the playoffs after a 7-2-1 start. There was the Le’Veon Bell saga that saw him sit out the entire 2018 season after being given the franchise tag for a second straight year.
Now there’s the news that seven-time Pro Bowler Antonio Brown has been dealt to the Oakland Raiders for a third and a fifth-round draft choice. It’s a deal that won’t become official until 4 pm ET on March 13.
There’s another trade that general manager Kevin Colbert and the organization made over the last few days. The club sent veteran right tackle Marcus Gilbert to the Arizona Cardinals for a sixth-round selection. Suddenly, the Steelers are in possession of 10 draft choices – topped only by the New England Patriots (12) and Cincinnati Bengals (11) at the moment. The club has multiple selections in the third and sixth rounds, the latter with three picks.
In 2017, Colbert made four selections in the first three rounds. The Steelers wound up with outside linebacker T.J. Watt at No. 30 overall. In the second round, it was wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. The third brought cornerback Cameron Sutton and running back James Conner. For what it’s worth, all but Sutton wound up being named to the Pro Bowl this past season.
It’s also worth noting that late last week, Colbert and the organization signed center Maurkice Pouncey to a three-year contract extension and kept left guard Ramon Foster from hitting the free-agent market via a new two-year deal. What does it all mean? This is still a football team with a lot of talent at many positions. And who knows what the draft will bring next month.
In any case, the Steelers are certainly back to the business of football. It’s a refreshing change for a club that over the past few months had seen its proud reputation smeared a bit, fair or unfair. Armed with 10 draft choices and some up and coming players, those forecasting gloom and doom for this franchise after the Brown trade may want to see what transpires over the next few months.