This season has not been the norm for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The organization is starting a first-round rookie quarterback in Kenny Pickett for the first time since 2004, when Ben Roethlisberger took the helm, has a record of just 3-7, and sits at the bottom of the AFC. Barring an absolute miracle, Mike Tomlin‘s group will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2019 and have some serious decisions to make in the off-season. The front office was a small seller at the deadline, trading wide receiver, Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears for a 2023 second round pick and that has the potential to open an awesome opportunity for Pittsburgh.
The deal is already starting to shape its way in favor of the Steelers. Claypool has just five catches for 32 yards in three games with the Bears. Chicago has an extremely run heavy offense focused on elusive quarterback, Justin Fields‘ mobility. When the deal first occurred, many thought that Pittsburgh’s end of the deal would be receiving the Baltimore Ravens second round pick that they gave up to acquire linebacker, Roquan Smith. That wasn’t the case and general manager, Omar Khan was able to secure the Bears’ own second round selection.
Through three games with the team, Claypool has caught only 5 passes for less than 35 yards with 0 TDs. pic.twitter.com/TsTAl66NLX
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 22, 2022
The 2023 NFL Draft will have a bit of a wrinkle in it next year. The Miami Dolphins were forced to forfeit their 2023 first round pick after the franchise violated league policies that had to do with the integrity of the game.
While still under contract with the New Orleans Saints, former head coach, Sean Payton was contacted by Miami to discuss his interest in coaching in South Beach while still under contract. This is one of the reasons for the damaged relationship between the Dolphins’ former head coach and current Pittsburgh defensive assistant, Brian Flores and the franchise. Regardless of where the Dolphins land in the draft order, there will only be 31 first round selections as opposed to the normal 32.
Chicago currently sits at third in the 2023 draft order while Pittsburgh is seventh as of Week 11. Taking a look at the schedules of the current first overall holder, the Houston Texans, second in line, Carolina Panthers and the Bears, it’s not out of the question to assume that the windy city may have the top pick in next year’s draft. If Houston can pull off two wins, the organization would sit at 3-13-1. Lovie Smith’s team could absolutely win two against the following: the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts (Week 18).
The Panthers need to just get one victory to secure four wins and have to play Pittsburgh, the Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions. It gets extremely interesting in the battle for the first overall pick when one dives into what the Bears are looking at down the stretch, especially because Fields’ injury has been labeled day to day, but a season-ending injury has yet to be ruled out by the franchise.
Their upcoming schedule is quite brutal as Chicago will take on the New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Lions and Minnesota Vikings. Even with their emerging quarterback as the starting signal caller, no one can be convinced that each remaining game won’t be chalked up as a loss over the next month and a half. If those scenarios play out, the Bears could end up at 3-14 and with the first overall selection for the first time since 1947.
As previously stated, the normal first round has 32 total picks. Next year, it will be a bit different with the Dolphins’ forfeited pick. Regardless of where the Steelers end up in the draft order, securing the 32nd overall pick is not out of the question given the remaining schedules and situations surrounding the current top three. Given Claypool’s lack of production and last year being the last on his rookie contract, it could end up being the ultimate steal by Khan. He could even trade up in round one with his own first rounder and Chicago’s pick. He has great options.
Is the Claypool trade already shaping up to be a win for the Steelers? Let us know in the comments below!