Steelers Take Aggressive Approach With Championship In Mind

By Chris Gazze

After watching their uptown neighbors win a second straight Stanley Cup, the Steelers are motivated to add another trophy of their own to the City of Champions.

With one of the most talented lineups in the league, general manager Jim Rutherford has never shied away from trading assets to put together a championship roster and it appears that Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert is following suit.

Long known for building through the draft, the Steelers have a talented lineup in place ready to compete for a championship. The lineup is stacked with a healthy mix of veterans and youth that was one game away from the Super Bowl last season, but a few holes still remained.

In the past, the Steelers would roll with what they had and hope that a veteran stopgap could get the job done or a young player would improve and eventually take over a starting role. Not this season.

This team is not messing around. They know the clock is ticking on the career of their quarterback and they have a team ready to win a title. That is why Colbert’s aggressive approach in recent days is a breath of fresh air.

Over the past week, the Steelers made the following moves:

• Traded a 2018 fourth-round draft pick to the 49ers for Vance McDonald and a 2018 fifth-round pick.

• Signed Joe Haden.

• Traded Sammie Coates and a 2019 seventh-round pick to the Browns for a 2018 sixth-round pick.

• Traded Ross Cockrell to the Giants for a conditional draft pick in 2018.

• Traded a 2018 sixth-round pick to the Buccaneers for J.J. Wilcox and a 2019 seventh-round draft pick.

Not a bad week for Colbert. He signed the top cornerback available on the market then flipped two players who were going to get cut and three draft picks for two valuable depth players—with potential to start—and four draft picks.
After a month of training camp and a full slate of preseason games not a single cornerback stood out as a potential starting option opposite of Artie Burns. Credit Mike Tomlin for not wanting to wait for a young cornerback to develop and credit Colbert for going out and getting him Haden. Haden may not be the Pro Bowler he once was, but is still a proven option who has scheme versatility.

The most recent move to add Wilcox provides some much-needed depth to the safety position. Robert Golden and Jordan Dangerfield were not cutting it and Wilcox has 38 games of starting experience.

While Wilcox’s strength is his physical play as opposed to his ability in coverage, his starting experience makes him valuable to the Steelers. Mike Mitchell has not practiced since the first padded practice of camp with a likely hamstring injury and the team needed insurance.

Although the offense seems stacked on the surface, tight end was a big weakness. Even so, the Steelers easily could have been satisfied with Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and Martavis Bryant as the top weapons for Ben Roethlisberger.
They weren’t and they went out and got him an intriguing pass-catching option in McDonald. He averaged 16.3 yards per catch on 24 receptions last year and could match this number as the Steelers have so many other weapons.

There is no way to say if these players will put the Steelers over the top, but as we have seen with the Penguins, a few veteran additions can help energize a franchise in the pursuit of a championship.

Just in case it wasn’t clear before, it is very clear now—the Steelers only goal this season is a championship and they appear to be prepared to make all of the moves necessary to get there.

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