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Can Steelers Get a WR Trade Done Before Season?

The Pittsburgh Steelers want a wide receiver via the trade market, but in actuality, is there actually any market for them to dip into?



Pittsburgh Steelers Trade Target San Francisco 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk warms up before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 10, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers are talking about multiple wide receivers and trying to add help to their room after drafting Roman Wilson in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft. According to Benjamin Allbright, a Broncos insider, the Steelers have called about Brandon Aiyuk, Courtland Sutton, and DK Metcalf. Still, they have been rebuffed by the 49ers and Broncos, and a Metcalf deal will not be done until at least after June 1.

That’s fine, but the Steelers have to know their timeline here. It’s not likely one of immediate gratification. If there were a move to be made around this time of year, that would have happened a week ago at the NFL Draft. Now? It might take a few months for the wheels to get set into motion.

Mike Klis, Denver’s hallmark for sourced reporting, says that Sutton is not going anywhere and that the Broncos expect to keep him around. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ general manager, John Lynch, has shut down all Aiyuk speculation, and it seems one will not happen. Then, Metcalf has not been ruled out, but it seems unlikely the team will be able to acquire him given his large dead cap hit and the overall lack of benefit for the Seahawks.

The Steelers have been in the market for a wide receiver since trading Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers in March. They’ve struck out on free agents Mike Williams and Tyler Boyd, missing on Williams, who signed with the Jets, and reaching a negotiating impasse with Boyd. The Steelers have Aiyuk, who the 49ers insist they are not trading.

The Steelers seem bent on landing veteran wide receiver help, with the first move likely being Wilson, and then a possible trade to round out the room. However, a trade has not yet materialized, and they may have to be patient. But they can not wait too long to add someone, and they may have to pivot to the free agent market at some point.

Speaking at the conclusion of the third day of the draft on Saturday, Omar Khan said that the team is in place to make a move to add to the position if it finds the right one, thanks to their recent restructuring of Alex Highsmith’s contract.

“Yeah, we’ll see,” Khan said. “I’ve said it before. If there’s ever an opportunity to improve the team, we’re going to look at it, and if makes sense, we’re gonna go after it. We restructured Alex’s deal. It puts us in a position to be flexible with some things if there’s an opportunity to do something.”

Over the last two offseasons, the Steelers have signed and/or traded for linebacker Kwon Alexander, tackle Dylan Cook, tackle Jesse Davis, safety Terrell Edmunds, outside linebacker Marcus Golden, safety Damontae Kazee, defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi and cornerback Chandon Sullivan between the end of the draft and the start of the preseason.

So, it can happen. How? Contract negotiations falling apart. Almost all of the trade candidates sans Metcalf that have been thrown around have contract situations. Aiyuk and Samuel are tied together via Aiyuk’s new impending contract, Sutton wants a new deal with two years left on his but very little guaranteed money, and even someone lower down their list, like Darius Slayon, wants a new contract from the Giants.

A trade for someone like Metcalf will take time, too. The Seahawks are likely scanning their options as they are up against the salary cap, but trading a 26-year-old Pro Bowl wide receiver seems less than ideal when the team is in a win-now mode. The logical conclusion is that something will likely happen for the Steelers in the trade market. But will it happen soon? Don’t bet on it. The Steelers will likely be working the phones on possible wide receiver trades for most of the summer before they can find their desired deal and value on the trade.