Sure, G.M. Kevin Colbert might have recently said that the Steelers’ leading receiver during the 2010 and 2011 seasons will not be moved. Colbert’s staunch media stance aside, I still wonder the following:
“What if there is no possible way for a long-term contract to be worked out and #17′s absence begins to cause problems?”
“What if some Wide Receiver-needy trading partners exist and have a solid offer in exchange waiting for the Steelers for #17′s services?”
If these sorts of things end up occurring, or Colbert & Co. believe the Steelers organization can come out “winners” in a deal, I truly think that there could be a few trading partners which would be willing to give Pittsburgh a competitive and solid offer to acquire #17. So why don’t we take a look at a list which I comprised of some teams which might be willing to give Colbert a call over the next few months?:
Like another team on this list, the Dolphins are heading into the 2012 season without their leading statistical receiver from 2011 (Brandon Marshall). At this point, Miami’s two starting WR’s are Brian Hartline (35 Catches for 549 Yards and 1 TD) and Davone Bess (51 Catches for 537 Yards and 3 TD’s). Nice possession guys do not get me wrong, but hardly a duo which will strike fear into opponents in 2 WR sets, and are not considered to have tremendous “big play potential.”
Sure, the Dolphins acquired Legedu Naanee and “Ocho-psycho” in the offseason, drafted Jeff Fuller and B.J. Cunningham very late, and also have former SDSU Aztec Roberto Wallace on their roster as well. But while the quantity is there for competition at Wide Receiver, the quality when compared to a player like Pittsburgh’s sedentary pass-catcher at this point in his career is not even in the same ballpark. Making the situation a bit more stressful is how Hartline will be a UFA after this season ends, and Bess will reach UDFA status in 2014. If both players do intend to leave for greener pastures, Miami might consider trying to cover their bases at the position sooner rather than later.
And hey, it would not hurt a team like Miami to attract more fans to their mediocre at best franchise (post-Dan Marino) and gain some positive attention towards their organization as a whole over the coming seasons. I mean, the Dolphins already drafted their supposed “QB of the future” in Ryan Tannehill (who likely will not play in 2012), so why not acquire a burner with big-play ability for him to throw to when he eventually begins to take meaningful snaps? Plus, the Dolphins have an extra 3rd Round pick left over from the Brandon Marshall trade which could entice Pittsburgh to deal #17 if Miami decides to offer it.
Indianapolis would be another logical landing spot for #17 if Pittsburgh decides to trade him, and is arguably the move which benefit both parties involved if the Steelers are able to get something of solid value in return in the deal.
Entering 2012, the Colts could use more depth at Wide Receiver, and will definitely need to replace the departed Pierre Garcon and find someone to pair with veteran Pro Bowler and #1 target Reggie Wayne. Last season, Garcon accounted for 70 Catches, 947 Yards, and 6 TD’s last season, and was a solid option for Indianapolis’ mediocre cavalcade of QB’s. While Austin Collie is a solid #3 target, he has been injury-prone, and beyond him, there experience and talent at the Wide Receiver position on the roster.
#17 would instantly give Indianapolis a field-stretching target and could create matchup nightmares and acres of room for Rookie Tight Ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. And let’s not forget “Steeler Nation,” #17 is an experienced veteran of the “Bubble Screen Wizard’s” Offensive system, and I am sure Arians would badger the Irsay and the rest of his Front Office to at least consider a move (3rd Round pick) to bring #17 over to help Rookie QB Andrew Luck during the early stages of his career.
Of all the teams in the N.F.L. which have a need for a speedy, vertical, pass-catching threat on the outside, it would be the Rams whose Quarterbacks finished with a 5.9 YPA average last season. Luckily for St. Louis, they probably have the necessary means to make the best offer to the Steelers if #17 is indeed available.
The Rams are in desperate need at this point to help Sam Bradford and surround him with weapons at this point in his career. Gone is St. Louis’ leading receiver from 2011 in the form of Brandon Lloyd, plus the combination of Brandon Gibson and Danario Alexander were the Rams’ two leading pass-catchers from the WR position last season. And while the Rams might feel that raw Rookies like Brian Quick and Chris Givens are readu to play now, and 2nd Year men Greg Salas and Austin Pettis (27 Catches apiece, YPC for both under 10.0 Yards in 2011, and Pettis is suspended at the beginning of the season) can chip too, they are not even comparable to #17 in terms of their overall skill-sets at their respective stages in their careers. And yeah, maybe Danny Amendola and Steve Smith can help out in the short-game this season, but both have had injury issues in the past and do not create the field-stretching threat like a #17 can. Essentially, the Rams, like the Dolphins, might have quantity going for them at Wide Receiver, but not necessarily quality, something which might make them want to acquire a Pro Bowler to their mix at the position.
With two 1st Round picks and one 2nd Round selection in the 2013 Draft, St. Louis has some room to maneuver up and down the draft board. Because of this, the Rams might be compelled be willing to part with their 2nd (or even 3rd Round selection) if #17 stays away from Latrobe and eventually finds himself on the trading block. Because of their ammunition in terms of draft selections, Pittsburgh might be more than willing to listen to an offer from a team like the Rams if they truly believe that #17 will be the answer they seek at Wide Receiver.
Dallas Cowboys (Wild-Card)
Jerry Jones might be talking to troubled Wide Receiver Dez Bryant again, but I am sure that it does not mean he has forgiven or can fully trust Dallas’ 2010 1st Round pick again after his most recent arrest. This season, Dallas will need to find a way to replace Laurent Robinson’s productive 2011 campaign which featured 54 Catches, 858 Yards, and 11 TD’s, and could consider hedging their bets if the ridiculously talented yet immature Bryant continues his streak of childish behavior. Taking these things into account, what better way to do these things than trading arguably a Top 15 WR overall talent-wise and one of the best deep threats in the entire League? Plus, #17 has kept his name out of the negative headlines since he came into the League in 2009, and this is definitely something that could be a relief to many in the Cowboys organization which might be losing patience with Bryant’s shenanigans.
I do not care for the Cowboys at all, but could you the readers imagine how lethal Dallas’ passing attack would be with a healthy Austin, Witten, and #17 (and possibly Bryant)? Allowing #17 to blow the top off a Defense would allow Jason Witten to have a field-day in the middle of the field, and Tony Romo could absolutely shred the opposition if given time to throw to his Top 3-4 targets on a weekly basis. Even teams like the Giants would have trouble defending personnel groupings like that one.
Jones has traded a 1st Round pick before for Roy Williams, and has never been afraid to spend money or draft selections to acquire talent. Thus, with an owner’s deep pockets and desire to win “now,” combined with the Cowboys need for a deep threat, and Dez Bryant’s recent behavioral issues, it would not shock me if Dallas inquired about the status of #17 in the event he continues to sit well into the regular season.
As Colbert stated, #17 is not on the trading block right now, and the current strategy being employed to keep him and the onus on him to report is a responsible and intelligent move. For the time being, Colbert & Co. should (and will) exercise every option to at least get #17 to sign the tender or work out a long term deal. Plus, the Steelers could be unwilling to move #17 simply as a move to illustrate to him and the rest of the world that they are indeed “The Boss” and confronting them will not be taken lightly. Yet if #17 sits out well into the preseason and even into the regular season, and no hopes exist of signing him long-term (even with a $10 million plus Franchise Tag in 2013), I believe a chance exists where we could see the Front Office changing their tune if a deal is proposed to them which is highly beneficial to the Steelers future plans.
Granted, a midseason trade would completely hinge on the trading partner being able to work out a lucrative long-term deal with #17 (not an easy task), because it would be highly unlikely to impossible that the other franchise would sign him just for a season or less. Nevertheless, the potential partners I discusses above all have reasons to trade for Pittsburgh’s unhappy pass-catcher, and most importantly have the means to peak the Steelers’ interest if Colbert & Co. eventually elect to move him.
For the next month or so though, all we can do is play the waiting game along withe everybody else.
What do you think the Steelers should do if #17 holds out well into the regular season? Let him sit the first ten games? Try to work out a trade?
Share your thoughts below, readers.
Stats Courtesy of: Pro Football Reference.com