The Pittsburgh Steelers could be the proper landing spot for one of the most accomplished players in the league.
As part of Alex Kay of Bleacher Report’s list of five trades that should happen before the start of training camp, Kay mentions the scenario of Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith landing with the Steelers. Kay explains how the Cowboys already have the veteran’s replacement — 2022 first-round pick Tyler Smith — waiting in the wings to take his spot on the offensive line.
Most importantly, it would allow the Steelers to replace the “ineffective” Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle and give Pittsburgh a proper franchise tackle in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era.
“The Steelers had PFF’s No. 26-rated offensive line in 2021 while deploying ineffective rookie Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle,” said Kay.
“Upgrading from Moore to Smith would be a major boon for the Steelers as they prepare for life in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era,” Kay continues. “Even if he’s not available for all 17 games, Smith’s presence would allow Moore to further develop as a backup before returning as the full-time starter in a couple years.”
Why the Cowboys Would Consider Trading Smith
Since entering the league in 2011, Smith has been one of the best offensive linemen in the league. The 31-year-old is an eight-time Pro Bowler and a four-time All-Pro selection. In fact, Smith is coming off of a Pro Bowl campaign in 2021, a season in which he registered a 91.4 offensive grade and 88.0 pass-blocking grade, according to Pro Football Focus.
Smith ranked second in the league among all tackles in offensive grade and pass-blocking grade last season. He also happened to rank third (90.5) in run-blocking grade.
However, he has missed 20 games over the past two seasons due to injuries. In fact, Smith hasn’t played at least 14 games in a season since 2015.
Considering Smith will turn 32 years old this season, it might be the right time to trade him to recoup value out of the left tackle while he’s still considered elite. Smith is due to earn $13.5 million this season and $13.6 million next season, which would be a bargain deal for the Steelers. However, in the Cowboys’ case, their rookie draft pick — Tyler Smith — is due to earn just $13.4 million across four seasons.
Kay mentions how tackles past the age of 30 have netted decent returns in trades recent years.
“While Dallas may not field many offers for Smith because of concerns about his health, there is precedent for aging tackles to return a decent haul of draft capital,” says Kay. “A 31-year-old Trent Williams netted third- and fifth-round picks, and Duane Brown was traded for second- and third-rounders when he was 32 years old.”
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Why Acquiring Smith is Key For Steelers
Pittsburgh didn’t exactly light it up when it came to offensive line play in 2021. The Steelers allowed 38 sacks last season, ranking 17th in the league as far as most sacks allowed. According to PFF, Pittsburgh also ranked just 15th in pass-blocking grade and 24th in run-blocking grade.
A lot of that had to do with fourth-round rookie Dan Moore Jr. emerging as the starting left tackle entering the 2021 season. The 23-year-old posted a mediocre 57.8 offensive grade and a 58.9 pass-blocking grade, according to PFF. The offensive grade ranked Moore in the bottom three of all tackles in the league who saw at least 1,000 snaps last season. The pass-blocking grade ranked Moore in the bottom four of all tackles using the same metric.
Considering the Steelers are facing a reloading year with either Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph or rookie Kenny Pickett starting at quarterback, finding a reliable blindside tackle is key. If Pittsburgh can somehow pull off a deal for Smith — even if it requires trading draft capital — it’s something that they should absolutely do.