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Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown Gave Steelers Ammo to Trade Up for Devin Bush

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The Pittsburgh Steelers made a bold move on Thursday night, moving up 10 spots in the 2019 NFL Draft to select Michigan linebacker Devin Bush.

The move was a bold one — and somewhat unexpected — because of the cost typically associated with making such a trade. But thanks to the outcomes of a tumultuous offseason, the Steelers had the pieces necessary to pull the trigger.

According to the chart created by former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson that is commonly used as a reference framework to establish the value of draft picks, the Denver Broncos, who owned pick No. 10 — got pretty close to the full value of their selection.

According to the chart, the No. 10 pick is worth 1,300 points. The No. 20 pick is worth 850 points. The Steelers also sent pick No. 52 in the second round to Denver, adding 380 points, and their 2020 third-round pick. That pick will be worth at most 265 points, giving Denver a total of 1,495 as a best-case scenario. On the other hand, if the Steelers win the Super Bowl, that third round pick will net just 116 points, giving Denver 1,346 points.

Either way, the Broncos end up ahead of the chart, but with one major exception. That third-round pick coming in the 2020 season means that Denver will have to wait an entire year to realize the return on that part of the deal while Bush suits up for the Steelers this fall.

Picks that high aren’t usually traded in such a fashion, but a team looking to trade up a year — meaning a 2020 pick for a 2019 pick — would typically lose at least one round on the exchange. So that 2020 third-round pick for Denver is valued more closely to a 2019 fourth-round pick, which would leave Denver with somewhere between 44 and 112 points, straddling the line between a break-even and a loss.

But the Broncos were confident that they would be able to get the kind of player they were looking for at No. 20 — picking Iowa tight end Noah Fant.

That gave the Steelers the opportunity to move ahead of Cincinnati, which held the No. 11 pick and had been linked to Bush.

“It really wasn’t that complicated,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said on the night of the first round. “We touched base earlier in the day and exchanged some ideas and usually when you do that you always know. No one wants to make a deal until you’re on the clock because you don’t know what you’re trading away from. We don’t know what you’re trading up for. It really wasn’t that complicated. You get on the phone and it’s we’ll do this, and they say OK we’ll do it.”

The Steelers expect to get another third-round pick in 2020 as compensation for losing free agents, including running back Le’Veon Bell, who signed with the New York Jets, and have an additional third-round pick in 2019 from trading Antonio Brown to the Raiders.

So even after the trade, the Steelers still have picks in all seven rounds in 2020 and will have two picks on the second day of the 2019 draft at No. 66 and No. 83 in the third round on Friday night.

“We never want to trade away a second-round pick, but this year, because of that high third that we got from the Raiders in the Antonio Brown trade, we were willing to do it this year because in essence, that high three is only three spots from a second-round pick,” Colbert said. “That high third really enabled us to do it because we said under no circumstances would we go into (Friday) with less than two picks. That was our criteria when myself and coach (Mike Tomlin) and Art Rooney II sat down. Surely we’ll look into trading up, but we want to have two picks (Friday) because they’re good players still left.”

So if you’re a Steelers fan that’s pleased with the bold move to get Bush in the first round of the draft, Colbert and company certainly deserve plenty of credit. But the contributions — such as they were — of Bell and Brown also played a big factor.

Steelers

Zach Banner Announces Self-imposed Social Media Ban Until he Signs New Deal

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Zach Banner is sending a clear message about his priorities ahead of the 2021 NFL season. Banner, who is a free agent and looking for a new deal with the Steelers, tweeted that he is going to stay off social media until he officially signs on the dotted line.

Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault. He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. Banner now hopes to return to Pittsburgh and be the missing piece the Steelers offensive line desperately needs.

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Rooney: Steelers Plan to Return to St. Vincent for 2021 Training Camp

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There is plenty that remains up in the air about the 2021 NFL offseason, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have plans to resume one of their enduring traditions that was broken by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The Steelers were forced to forgo their trip to the campus of St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2020 due to the NFL’s rules regarding keeping players isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s unclear how much those restrictions will change for the NFL teams this summer, but as things stand as of today, the Steelers are still making plans to return to the Laurel Highlands for the team’s annual training camp this summer.

“As we sit here today, our plan is to have training camp in Latrobe,” team president Art Rooney II said to Steelers.com on Friday. “We still have a ways to go to get there, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that’s going to be able to happen. We’re still hopeful we’re going to have some form of offseason program, and it’s probably not going to start on time but I think it’s important particularly for the young players that we get back to having an offseason program and then a full training camp and preseason games. I think we need to have that to help the young players continue to develop.”

Displaced from their usual bucolic summer home and from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side due to capacity limitations, the Steelers spent the 2020 training camp and preseason at Heinz Field.

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NFL Network Analysts Call Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger 3rd-Best in AFC North

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It appears that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is likely to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers, with both Roethlisberger’s agent and team president Art Rooney II making public statements that each party desires a return for 2021 this week.

But how much of a difference-maker will Roethlisberger be? That depends on his level of play this coming season.

NFL Network analysts and former NFL players Willie McGinest and LaDainian Tomlinson each ranked the quarterbacks of the AFC North and both said they think Roethlisberger is the third-best quarterback in the division, behind Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield.

“I’m not taking anything away from Ben,” McGinest said. “Lamar Jackson is special and I put Baker in front of Ben because of what we’ve seen in the progression of Baker the last couple of years. … I see him getting better and Ben fighting father time, with the skills diminishing just a little bit.”

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Tomlinson said. “We’ve seen, in spurts, Big Ben play well. He started out hot. But he didn’t finish so well. … He looked old and beat up toward the end of the season. I’m just not sure that improves.”

Statistically, Roethlisberger finished first amongst the four AFC North passers in completion percentage, but he was fourth in yards per attempt and third in passer rating and QBR. Pro Football Focus ranked Roethlisberger last of the division’s four starters in 2020.

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