Steelers Trading for Star Pass Rusher ‘Isn’t Very Plausible’: Analyst

Mike Tomlin

Getty Head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't likely to be involved in trade negotiations for Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young, argued Steelers Depot's Dave Bryan.

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t known as a franchise to execute big-time trades. But when a major need exists, blockbuster deals aren’t off the table for Pittsburgh.

That’s led some to wonder whether the Steelers could be a destination for Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young this offseason. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported on June 7 that “it seems unlikely the Washington brass would move him” before the 2023 season, but that the team is also “open to listening” to trade offers.

Steelers Depot’s Dave Bryan argued, though, that it “isn’t very plausible” that the Steelers will be one of the teams making Washington an offer.

“I will be surprised if Washington deals Young prior to Week 1 of the 2023 regular season,” Bryan wrote. “I’ll be even more surprised if the Steelers traded for Young if he winds up being dealt.”

Young made the Pro Bowl and won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2020. But he suffered a torn ACL and patellar tendon in his right knee in 2021.

As a result, he’s missed 22 games over the past two seasons.

A Potential Chase Young Trade is Complicated

The Steelers could be loosely linked to Young (assuming he’s available) for a couple different reasons.

First, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is obviously a fan of Young. When Washington visited Pittsburgh during the 2020 season, NFL Films caught Tomlin complimenting Young along the sideline.

“I don’t ever want to lose enough games to get a guy like you,” Tomlin told Young. “You know what I mean? ‘Cause you gotta lose 14, 15 games to get a guy look like you.”

Secondly, Steelers fans could point to the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade as precedence for a potential Young deal this summer.

There are obvious differences between the two situations — Fitzpatrick was coming off an All-Pro season while Young is trying to get back on the field consistently. The Steelers also have a new general manager since the Fitzpatrick trade.

But if Omar Khan still deems edge rusher and/or defensive line a big enough need this summer, acquiring Young could be one of the best methods for filling that void.

However, a trade for Young is complicated for any team who is interested.

Bryan reported that Young would cost about $5.3 million against the 2023 salary cap if acquired before August 5. The Steelers have that cap space, but that’s an expensive salary for a player who is still recovering from perhaps the most serious of football injuries.

Young is also not under contract beyond 2023. Any team that acquires Young not only has to be willing to pay his 2023 salary but also plan on signing him to a long-term deal.

That’s difficult to plan given that Young is not healthy. But otherwise, Young is a one-year rental.

Bryan argued it might be more prudent for Young to remain in Washington anyway. He has to prove himself again in order to land a lucrative long-term deal. Playing in a familiar setting and system improves his chances of maximizing his value.

Extending LB Alex Highsmith Likely Top Priority for Steelers

Young’s talent makes him an appealing option for any NFL team. He’s an intriguing possibility for Pittsburgh because the Steelers could use more youth and experience along their defensive line.

The former No. 2 overall pick has both.

Extending linebacker Alex Highsmith on a long-term deal, though, is likely one of Khan’s top priorities left this offseason. If the Steelers lock up the outside linebacker, then they will already have their pass rushing duo for the foreseeable future even without Young.

“The expectations are that the team will extend Alex Highsmith, making him and T.J. Watt the bookend starters of the future,” Steelers Now’s Nick Farabaugh wrote. “If that happens, Young is at best the OLB3 on a team that would have to pay some significant draft capital to land him.”

Farabaugh added that “the combination of need and cost” makes Young “out of reach for Pittsburgh.”

In 27 career games, Young has recorded 75 combined tackles, including 13 tackles for loss, 17 quarterback hits and 9 sacks. But 7.5 of those 9 sacks came in 2020.

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