The Pittsburgh Steelers have a glaring weakness on this team.. Even more pressing than any on their underperforming offense. This team has a pair of starting corners that are at this point nearly unplayable. Levi Wallace and Patrick Peterson have 46.4 and a 54.6 PFF grades respectively. They are the only things holding this defense back from becoming truly elite. Joey Porter Jr can fill one spot, but just him alone can not adequately fix the problem.
Adding a premier corner to this team would give the Steelers that elite defense. It would have a similar affect to what happened when the Steelers added Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2019. Combine that with an offense that finally seems to be waking up, and this franchise would be poised to make a serious run in the playoffs. With that in mind, here are five Steelers splash moves at corner who could put them over the top:
1. Patrick Surtain:
There has been a lot of noise associated with Patrick Surtain being traded. The Broncos are certainly open for business, whether or not they’d be willing to trade a dynamic young corner is another matter however. The Steelers would need to make a “godfather” type offer to pry him away from Denver.
Pittsburgh’s first round pick, plus more assets would be necessary here. Seems expensive, but getting a 23 year old lock down corner is not cheap. This would be the ideal Steelers splash move at the deadline. Surtain was also mentioned in our article of overall secondary targets for the Steelers at the deadline. Six potential targets to help the Steelers secondary at the trade deadline
2. Jaire Alexander
Can’t get Surtain away from the Broncos? Jaire Alexander would be one hell of a consolation prize. Unfortunately we’re not sure the Packers would be all that interested in moving him. They do have three really good corners right now. As they fall further out of the race, unloading Alexander’s big contact may become more appealing.
Jaire Alexander goes from an incredibly cheap $6.5 in 2023, to a much more in line with his talent $16 million in 2024. This makes him ultra affordable for the Steelers to make this deal work in the short term. They would have some work to do to fit this contact in 2024 however. Let’s worry about that next year, and get this player to make a run right now.
3. Marshon Lattimore
There’s no question Marshon Lattimore is one of the elite corners in the NFL. He would be an immense upgrade over what the Steelers currently have. His contract may be a real sticking point with Omar Khan and company. He is in the the second year of a five year/$97.6 million dollar contract with the Saints. He is scheduled to make $15, $16, and $16.5 million in 2024 through 2026.
Lattimore is still only 27 years old, so it is reasonable to expect above average play through the end of this deal. The four time Pro Bowler is just what this defense needs to take it to the next level
4. JC Jackson
There is a whole lot to unpack here with JC Jackson. First of all he was just acquired by the New England Patriots after leaving them to sign a lucrative deal with the Chargers. Why he soured so quickly in Los Angeles is a bit of a mystery. There were some legal troubles back in Massachusetts, but that didn’t seem to bother the Patriots at all.
It would be on brand for Bill Belichick to trade for a player, then flip him immediately for a profit. New England gave up next to nothing exchanging 6th and 7th round picks for the the 2021 Pro Bowl corner.
JC Jackson is right back to where he was in 2022, playing great at corner for the Patriots. There may be some concern if he can do it outside of New England, but no matter what he is a significant upgrade to what Pittsburgh has now.
5. Kendall Fuller
While Kendall Fuller may not have the name recognition of the previous four, he has put together some excellent seasons in Washington. Fuller currently has an 81.5 PFF grade, with 2 interceptions for the Commanders. He is in the last year of his contract, making him an expendable piece for the struggling Commanders.
Kendall Fuller may represent the best option for the Steelers at the deadline. Fuller won’t cost nearly as much as the previously mentioned corners, but could give the same type of production. Still only 28, he would be a viable long term extension candidate if the team so chose. This would be a low key great Steelers splash move at the NFL trade dealine.
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