Wild Trade Proposal Ships WR Justin Jefferson to Steelers for Mega Package

Justin Jefferson

Getty Bleacher Report's Alex Ballentine proposed the Pittsburgh Steelers trade George Pickens and two draft picks for All-Pro Justin Jefferson.

Pundits have connected the Pittsburgh Steelers with several wide receiver trade candidates this offseason. Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine suggested a new target, Minnesota Vikings All-Pro Justin Jefferson on May 29.

Ballentine proposed the Steelers send wideout George Pickens, their 2025 first-rounder and a sixth-round pick to the Vikings for Jefferson.

“Right now, the Steelers’ receiver room could still use some work. George Pickens has promise as a No. 1 receiver, but he was 74th in true catch rate and 126th in win rate vs. man coverage, per Player Profiler,” wrote Ballentine.

“Pickens is not a separator. He’s a contested-catch specialist who is at his best working vertical routes.

“Jefferson is a much more diverse pass-catcher whose ability to dominate on in-breaking routes and win against man coverage makes him one of the most productive receivers in the league.”

Jefferson had 68 catches for 1,074 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns last season. But he only played in 10 contests.

When he last played a full season in 2022, Jefferson dominated the league, recording an NFL-high 128 catches and 1,809 receiving yards. He also had 8 touchdowns on his way to first-team All-Pro and the Offensive Player of the Year award.

Jefferson has recorded at least 88 catches, 1,400 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns in every season in which he has played more than 11 games.

That kind of production would be a tremendous addition to the Steelers offense. But at what cost?

Should the Steelers Entertain Possibility of Acquiring WR Justin Jefferson?

There’s no denying that Jefferson would be an upgrade over Pickens at WR1 for the Steelers. But Pickens isn’t really the problem.

On Pittsburgh’s current roster, Pickens is the only receiver who had more than 209 receiving yards in 2023. Trading away Pickens to land Jefferson means Jefferson would become the only Steelers receiver who had at least 210 yards last year.

In other words, the top of Pittsburgh’s receiver depth chart improves. But the team’s obvious hole at WR2 would remain.

In the trade, the Steelers would lose Pickens, who is tremendously talented and still affordable. Pickens led the NFL with an 18.1 yards per reception average last season. He has two years left on his rookie contract.

Jefferson, on the other hand, is about to get very expensive. He will have a $19.7 million cap hit in 2024, which is the final year of his rookie deal. If acquired in a trade, the Steelers would then have to agree to an extension with Jefferson.

Based on his production, he should become the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.

If those aren’t big enough reasons for the Steelers to pause on a potential Jefferson trade, giving up their 2025 first-rounder isn’t ideal either. It’s possible the Steelers haven’t made a different receiver trade for Brandon Aiyuk or Courtland Sutton yet this offseason because of their unwillingness to give up a first-rounder.

If that’s the case, the Steelers may not be willing to budge on shipping away a first even for Jefferson.

Is Jefferson Available on the NFL Trade Market?

There are reasons why the Steelers aren’t the likeliest of landing spots for Jefferson. But it’s also unclear whether he is even available.

Jefferson has become the subject of trade rumors because Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio hinted on May 28 that the Vikings were interested in trading up into the top 5 for receiver Malik Nabers.

However, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert contradicted Florio’s suggestion.

“This rumor has made the rounds, and it’s admittedly juicy, but the Vikings did not try last month to trade up and draft WR Malik Nabers,” Seifert wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Great player, but Vikings have a better one in Justin Jefferson.

“Still working to extend Jefferson and no interest in trading him.”

If true, whether the Steelers are willing to depart with Pickens and a first-round pick and then pay Jefferson is irrelevant. The Vikings may not depart with Jefferson for any price.

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