Proposed 3-Team Trade Sends Steelers WR to Packers for Top 10 Pick

Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Diontae Johnson of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates scoring a touchdown with teammate Chase Claypool at SoFi Stadium on November 21, 2021.

The Pittsburgh Steelers want the chance to select their quarterback of the future, the Green Bay Packers need to fill the hole left by Davante Adams, and the Atlanta Falcons hope to amass draft capital. Those are the motivations behind a proposed 3-team trade suggested by ESPN staff writer Bill Barnwell that purportedly addresses each team’s needs.

In Barnwell’s scenario, the Steelers receive 2022 first- and sixth-round picks from the Falcons (No. 8 and No. 190 overall), while sending wide receiver Chase Claypool to the Packers and the team’s 2022 first-round pick (No. 20 overall) to the Falcons. Atlanta also comes away with a first-rounder from Green Bay (No. 22 overall), even as it sends the Pack a 2022 fourth-rounder (No. 114 overall).

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Is This a Good Trade for the Steelers?

From a Steelers perspective, the rationale for the trade is simple, as it offers Pittsburgh the chance to move up in the draft to grab its “quarterback of the future,” whether that’s Liberty’s Malik Willis, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Mississippi’s Matt Corral or Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder. But it gives up the No. 20 overall pick and a high-upside wide receiver who is under team control for the next two seasons.

Within his framework, Barnwell envisions Pittsburgh signing rising fourth-year wide receiver Diontae Johnson to a contract extension, effectively precluding them from keeping Claypool in Pittsburgh after his rookie deal expires. He also counts on the organization being able to find Claypool’s replacement with a 2022 second- or third-round pick, pointing out that the organization has an enviable track record of being able to find quality receivers in the middle rounds, with Johnson (third round in 2019) being a recent example.

The bottom line, though, is that the trade makes more sense for the Packers, who would be getting “a valuable young receiver set to make just $2.7 million combined over the next two seasons,” as Barnwell puts it. No doubt Claypool would thrive with reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers having the ability to get him the ball at all levels of the field.

On the other hand, one can expect Claypool —6-foot-4, 238 pounds and still just 23 years old — to re-ascend this year and next in Pittsburgh. One can argue that no player on offense was hurt more by Ben Roethlisberger’s obviously diminished ability to throw down the field last year, which helps explain why Claypool scored only one touchdown in 2021, as compared to the 11 he contributed as a rookie in 2020, as per Pro Football Reference.

Never mind that trading away Claypool would leave the Steelers needing two more wide receivers for 2022, even with the recent waiver claim for former Ravens third-round pick Miles Boykin, who figures to serve in a special teams/depth capacity. Those two receivers would almost certainly have to come via the draft, leaving much less room to address other needs.

As for the Falcons, they probably make out well in Barnwell’s scenario, as they get two bites at the first-round apple in exchange for the No. 8 overall pick. That is, unless they fancy Malik Willis — who has been likened to former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart — or another of the top rookie quarterback prospects. At which point, they would likely be better off staying put at No. 8 overall.

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The Steelers Announce a Return to Saint Vincent College

Meanwhile, in other news from April 20, the Steelers announced on Wednesday that they will be returning to Latrobe for training camp this summer. The Steelers held training camp at Saint Vincent College for 54 straight years until they moved camp to Heinz Field in 2020 and 2021, a move necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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