Proposed Trade Has Steelers Acquiring Versatile Lineman

Jesse Davis Miami Dolphins

Al Bello/Getty Images Jesse Davis (#77) of the Miami Dolphins in action against the New York Jets on December 08, 2019.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers can’t go into this season thinking they’re set along the offensive line, because they most definitely are not,” writes Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report, his prelude to suggesting that general manager Kevin Colbert ought to make a trade to acquire Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jesse Davis.

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Pittsburgh’s O-Line Situation is … Totally Unsettled

Sobleski goes on to note that the Steelers have big question marks on both ends of the line, as Chukwuma Okorarfor is “penciled in” as the starter at left tackle, despite the fact that his 19 games of experience as a starter have come on the right side. Meanwhile, Zach Banner is projected to start at right tackle, though the 27-year-old has only two career starts to his name. Never mind that he’s trying to come back from a torn ACL, which he suffered in the season opener last September.

Thus far in training camp, injuries have kept both Okorafor and Banner on the sideline, which leaves the left tackle job to rookie fourth-round pick Dan Moore Jr. (or recently-acquired free agent Chaz Green, who appeared in 15 games last year for the Indianapolis Colts). On the right, the Steelers have free agent acquisition Joe Haeg (who won a Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season), but Haeg could conceivably be needed at guard, where the Steelers also have a certain amount of uncertainty.

That’s because very-promising second-year man Kevin Dotson hasn’t yet proved he’s the answer at left guard. Right guard looks a little more solid, with free agent acquisition Trai Turner the projected starter, and former Chicago Bears lineman Rashaad Coward immediately behind him on the depth chart.

At center things are completely up in the air. The Steelers hope rookie third-round pick Kendrick Green is the long-term replacement for Maurkice Pouncey, but he has a lot to prove before the start of the regular season, which is why Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin announced–two weeks ahead of time–that Green will be starting this Thursday’s Hall of Fame game. If Green doesn’t win the job during the preseason, J.C. Hassenauer would likely be the starter, but he has been out since the beginning of camp with a knee injury, leaving B.J. Finney—who didn’t take a snap last year for the Seahawks or Bengals—as the next best option.


What Would Jesse Davis Cost?

That brings us back to Jesse Davis, 29, a former undrafted free agent out of the University of Idaho who spent time with the Seattle Seahawks (2015) and New York Jets (2016) before he finally established himself with the Dolphins in 2017. In the four years since, he has started 56 games for Miami—at left tackle, right tackle and right guard.

Yet Sobleski regards Davis—6-foot-6 and 325 pounds—as expendable, now that the Dolphins drafted Liam Eichenberg No. 42 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Critically, he doesn’t suggest what the Steelers might have to give up for Davis, but he does make reference to what he would cost in 2021 and 2022, after which his current contract expires.

According to overthecap.com, Davis is set to earn salaries of $3.11 million and $3.135 million in the next two years, a reasonable cost, assuming he’s playing a starting role.


What is the Likelihood of the Steelers Making a Trade?

Considering the unsettled state of Pittsburgh’s offensive line, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Steelers make a trade prior to the start of the regular season. More likely, still, they could make a waiver claim for an offensive lineman after final cuts are made.

But it’s unlikely the team will make a move before they’ve had a chance to assess existing options over the next few weeks. Only then will it be practical to seriously consider trade options.

Regardless, it seems doubtful that the Dolphins would part with Davis, especially with D.J. Fluker now on injured reserve with a knee issue. Largely that’s because Davis is able to play four positions on the offensive line, making him an especially valuable reserve in case of injury.

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