The NFL trade deadline is November 1st 2016. That gives the Steelers a little over a month to address their biggest need, which is outside linebacker. Pittsburgh has everything, a franchise quarterback, offensive weapons galore, a great defensive line, and an improving young secondary. The chink in the armor is the complete lack of pass rush. None of the players on the roster right now are capable of changing this issue. Father time seems to have caught up with James Harrison. Young players like Anthony Chickillo and Jarvis Jones just don’t have the skills needed to be effective pass rushers. Authur Moats is what he is, a nice backup that shouldn’t be playing meaningful snaps. Bud Dupree won’t be back until the second half of the season, and the Steelers really don’t know what they have there despite some promise. Let’s take a look at a few possible targets.
Melvin Ingram (SD) – Ingram is coming off a career high 10.5 sacks, and is set to be a free agent after the season. The Chargers just lost Keenan Allen to a knee injury, would they be interested in Markus Wheaton in return? Pittsburgh has the depth at receiver to make this move.
Jadaveon Clowney (HOU) – Clowney has been a huge disappointment in Houston thus far. The former 1st overall pick has been hit with injuries throughout his short career. At 6’5 and 270 lbs he certainly fits the ideal size for a 3-4 outside linebacker. This would be a bit of a gamble for the Steelers with possible huge upside. What would it take to get him, and are the Texans ready to move on? Pittsburgh would have to put something up that would entice Houston to budge. Maybe a mid round pick and player, or a 2nd round pick could possibly get it done.
Paul Kruger (NO) – The Saints would have to be close to out of it by November 1st for them to deal Kruger because their defense is so bad. Let’s face it, that’s a real possibility for New Orleans. This deal would be the exact opposite of the Clowney deal discussed previously. It would be a low risk acquisition costing the Steelers a late round pick at best. The upside here is Kruger would be a very good situational pass rusher in the Steelers system.
Cameron Wake (MIA) – Similar to Kruger, the Dolphins would need to be out of the playoffs when the trade deadline approaches to be willing to move Wake. The good news is they are 0-2 and well on their way to that scenario. Another possible hold up is the $7 million owed to Wake next year, not to mention what’s left to pay this year. The salary cap implications make it difficult to deal for Wake. There’s no question Cameron Wake is a very talented edge rusher, and getting out of Miami may be just what he needs at this point of his career. A mid round pick may be enough to pry him away from the Dolphins.
Anthony Barr (MIN) – I saved the best and most unlikely for last here, but why shouldn’t Pittsburgh swing for the fences being so close to a Super Bowl championship. How about a Le’veon Bell for Barr mega trade!! Adrian Peterson is injured again and may miss most of the season. Whispers out of Minnesota have the Vikings moving on from their superstar running back at seasons end. So much of Norv Turners offense depends on a solid running game, and Bell would fill that void. The Steelers on the other hand need an impact outside linebacker now and in the years to come. Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo, and Authur Moats are the only outside linebackers under contract after this season. Pittsburgh certainly has the depth at running back to get through the rest of this campaign. DeAngello Williams looks like one of the best backs in the league right now. As far as Anthony Barr goes, acquiring him is a no-brainer. Barr is coming of a pro-Bowl appearance, in only his third year in the league. He’s a stud that would improve the Steelers defense immensely. Like I said not very likely, but a deal that would help both teams and push the Steelers defense to where it needs to be to win a Super Bowl.