The 2022 season marked the start of a new era for the Pittsburgh Steelers. For the first time since 2004, they were without longtime starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who retired in the offseason. Pittsburgh was also without general manager Kevin Colbert as he stepped down following 22 years with the franchise.
Despite the major changes, the team was just one win away from making it to the playoffs. Pittsburgh finished the season 9-8 and eighth in the AFC, losing to the Miami Dolphins in a tiebreaker. Most importantly, rookies Kenny Pickett and George Pickens had their moments and look like the future of the organization. Additionally, free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick earned his third First-Team All-Pro while linebacker T.J. Watt bounced back from his preseason injury.
Although it was a rebuilding year for the Steelers, they were nevertheless very close to making it to the postseason. This means that a few moves could make them a threat in the AFC.
With that being said, here is one trade that the Pittsburgh Steelers should complete during the 2023 offseason.
Pittsburgh receives: 2023 first-round pick (No. 12 overall)
Houston receives: WR Diontae Johnson, a 2023 second-round pick (No. 49 overall) and a 2023 fourth-round (No. 120 overall)
One area that the Steelers should consider upgrading is the receiving group. The team’s offense finished in the bottom half in many categories, including passing yards. It is worth noting that Pittsburgh had a rookie quarterback in Pickett leading the way, which likely played a role in those numbers. Still, the front office should analyze other options as well.
Pickens had his moments with 801 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his first year in the league. At the age of 22, he could be the future WR1 for years to come in Pittsburgh.
On the other side of the receiving department, veteran Diontae Johnson recorded 86 catches for 882 yards. However, he failed to score a touchdown across all 17 games in the regular season. He ended up setting an NFL record for most receptions in a season without a touchdown.
Because of that, alongside some key drops and penalties, the Steelers should consider a change at the wideout position. One possibility is shipping him to a team in need of a wide receiver while getting some valuable assets in return.
An intriguing trade the Steelers should consider is with the Houston Texans. In this deal, Pittsburgh would send Johnson, the No. 49 overall and No. 120 overall picks in exchange for the No. 12 selection.
For the Steelers, they would draft one of the top prospects of the class and address one of its major needs, such as the offensive line. Even with the move, they would still keep the No. 32 pick, meaning that the Steelers could draft another first-round-level talent, including a new player to be the WR2 behind Pickens.
As for the Texans, they would get an experienced wide receiver to complement their new quarterback. Instead of having a rookie duo of quarterback and wideout, Houston could fully focus on the development of the No. 2 pick and allow Johnson to be one of the main options on offense.
To make Houston trade away such a high selection, Pittsburgh would also send the No. 49 and No. 120 picks. This way, the Texans can add more young talent even without their No. 12 pick.
All things considered, this trade gives Johnson a new beginning and allows Pickens to be a clear WR1. Also, it gives the Steelers the chance of getting a top offensive lineman to help Pickett in his sophomore season.
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