The Pittsburgh Steelers are cutting players and making trades. A significant move just went down with the team desperate for veteran depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Steelers have acquired outside linebacker Malik Reed from the Denver Broncos.
Denver 9News’ Mike Klis further reported that the compensation for Reed and a seventh-round pick is a Steelers sixth-round pick in 2023.
Reed, 26, logged a slew of stats in three seasons with Denver:
- 15.0 sacks
- 123 tackles (15 for loss)
- 30 quarterback hits
- 4 defended passes
- 3 forced fumbles
- 2 recovered fumbles
Klis, who’s seen plenty of Reed over the years, tweeted that Reed is a “perfect fit” for Pittsburgh’s 3-4 system, adding, “(Reed) should be a top rotational OLB. Multiple teams were interested in Malik once he went on the trade block.”
Steelers Proactive in Gaining Depth
The Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves in a pickle ignoring outside linebackers in the 2021 NFL draft, and did next to nothing in the offseason to address the need.
It eventually led to signing free agent edge rusher Melvin Ingram. The experiment didn’t last long. By the sounds of it, Ingram expected to take over for Alex Highsmith; instead, he was made a rotational player and was unhappy with his role.
Let’s hope acquiring Malik Reed doesn’t turn into Melvin Ingram 2.0. As Steelers Wire Curt Popejoy tweeted, “Love the addition of Malik Reed. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go like the Melvin Ingram debacle.”
Hopefully, the Steelers learned their lesson and are transparent with Reed about his role with the team. If expectations are rotational with T.J. Watt and Highsmith, tell him. If he’s not going to start opposite Watt, they shouldn’t be selling him false promises.
Steelers Linebacker Injuries
The aforementioned Alex Highsmith has been limited this offseason, nursing a rib injury sustained early in training camp.
Highsmith didn’t exactly project confidence when asked if he’ll be ready for Week 1 versus the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals. He hesitated in his answer, “Uhhh… I should be ready. That’s the goal,” Highsmith told Steelers media on August 22.
T.J. Watt appeared to have avoided a significant lower leg injury in the August 28 preseason finale versus the Detroit Lions. Watt was hit with a cut block by tight end T.J. Hockenson, prompting current and former players to ban the legal but potentially devasting block.
“We’ve cleaned up where the BBs can’t shoot the gap and go at the o-linemen,” Steelers tackle Cam Heyward told the media after the game. “I just think we should work towards player safety in regards to, because it’s a bang-bang play where a tight end goes up and then goes straight for your knees. And he can get a running start out of it.”
Fox Sports 1’s and former linebacker Emmanuel Acho took things one step further, urging the block to be banned.
“Enough is enough, protect defensive players & get this block out of the game,” Acho tweeted.
The block on Watt is the same that has sidelined New York Giants rookie defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stated after the game that “there’s no long-term concern at the moment for T.J. Watt or Diontae Johnson.” But that statement should be taken with a grain of salt after Najee Harris revealed he suffered a sprained lisfranc — far worse than Tomlin’s report of Harris’ foot getting stepped on at camp.
There is no league-mandated injury report in the preseason, so Tomlin doesn’t have to be fully transparent about injuries beyond “day-to-day” or things of that nature. Since the regular season is still 1.5 weeks away, the extent of Watt, Highsmith and any other injuries doesn’t need to be shared.
Let’s just hope that Watt and Highsmith will be ready (and effective) for the September 11 brawl with the Bengals, and the Steelers are upfront with newly-acquired Malik Reed.