The Pittsburgh Steelers are finally back in contention after starting the 2020 NFL season with a more complete cast at the helm. They are currently enjoying an undefeated campaign thus far but it still leaves their roster with more room for improvement, especially with the recent torn ACL injury sustained by prolific linebacker Devin Bush.
Not to mention that the reigning AFC North champion and the second-seeded Baltimore Ravens are slowly creeping behind them with the recent acquisitions of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and then free-agent wide receiver Dez Bryant. The Steelers will also have to make some moves of their own to bolster their chances of taking over the division and making it all the way to the Super Bowl stage.
This list consists of three defensive players all coming from rebuilding teams who are looking for a breathe of fresh air as they head to the latter stages of the 2020 NFL season.
Here are the three best trades that the Steelers can make come November 3:
3. Jarrad Davis
Jarrad Davis is a big and athletic linebacker that can wreak havoc in the defense given the right system and pieces around him. He was immediately named as a starter in his rookie season back in 2017 and was handed a big role in the team under former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell.
He carried the momentum to his second year and managed to tally similar numbers as he played all 16 games for his team. In his third season in the league, he has slowly fallen out of favor with the Detroit Lions and head coach Matt Patricia this season which led to his diminished role on the team. The Lions also declined his fifth-year option which makes him a free agent by the end of the season.
With his limited production for the team, the Lions will most likely not ask for much in exchange for the former Florida standout which is in the range of possibly a mid-to-late round draft pick. A change in scenery could potentially help him find his groove back and improve his productivity on the field especially with the Steelers who need more help in the linebacker position.
2. Julian Love
The Steelers’ secondary unit has been underwhelming this season thus far. Star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has been lackluster while their top corners in Joe Haden, Cam Sutton, and Mike Hilton have all been getting beat by opposing receivers. The trade deadline might be a good opportunity for the Steelers to fix the gaping hole and make their entire defensive rotation better than ever.
Enter Julian Love in the picture, the hybrid slot corner and safety of the New York Giants. His best asset is his versatility which allows him to cover the slot while being able to protect deep as a safety. Despite his physical tools and upside on the defensive end, Love is still considered as a project moving forward. However, acquiring him can potentially pay dividends for the Steelers in the future if they choose to do so. His continuous improvement would eventually allow Fitzpatrick to play closer to the line while he drops down and cover deep.
Love wouldn’t seem to cost too much and a swap of middle-round picks between the two teams could get the deal done. The Steelers can trade their fourth-round pick in exchange for the Notre Dame product and a fifth-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Adding him would give the Steelers more options and different combinations to go within their defensive rotation moving forward.
1. Avery Williamson
Another option that they can consider for the linebacker position in lieu of Bush’s absence is Avery Williamson, an inside linebacker from the struggling New York Jets camp. Last season, the former Kentucky Wildcat also suffered a torn ACL injury but managed to bounce back and emerge as Gang Green’s best player on defense in their 2020 campaign. Through five games, the veteran linebacker recorded 34 total tackles, three passes defended, and one interception.
If the Steelers were to acquire Williamson by the deadline, he would only incur a $1,718,750 cap hit. He is also on the last tilt of his three-year deal which will expire at the end of the season, perfect for the return of Bush next season.
The veteran could use his productivity and experience to contribute to a team with Super Bowl aspirations like the Steelers. With the Jets looking to be sellers in the upcoming trade deadline, head coach Mike Tomlin could snag an experienced contributor in exchange for a seventh-round pick to fill in the big shoes left by Bush.