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Steelers Analysis

Five Wide Receiver Trades the Steelers Could Pull Off

The Pittsburgh Steelers may want to land a wide receiver via trade but are there really any options? Here are a few possibilities.

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Steelers Playoff courtland Sutton
ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 24: Denver Broncos Wide Receiver Courtland Sutton (14) prior to the National Football League game between the Denver Broncos and the Buffalo Bills on November 24, 2019, at New Era Field in Orchard Park, NY. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

It seems like the Pittsburgh Steelers want to make a trade for a wide receiver, but who exactly that player might end up being is anyone’s guess. Add onto the fact that the team has other obvious holes to fill, and trading away premium draft capital can get dicey without a formulated plan. But, if they were to pull it off, who are some players they could trade for realistically? Here are just five possibilities they could look at for this trade.

Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers

Easily the most talked about, Brandon Aiyuk would be the biggest fish of them all. And there is no doubt he would be the most expensive, both with a new contract and with the draft picks they would have to move to get him. In all likelihood, Aiyuk would likely cost a first-round pick since the 49ers have stated they don’t want to trade him, at least at this point.

Pittsburgh Steelers Brandon Aiyuk

49ers wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel celebrate after a touchdown, Sept. 11, 2023 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The most recent example of a top-flight receiver being dealt with in a similar situation was A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles. They parted with their first-round pick as well as their later third-round pick, the No. 101 overall pick in that year’s class. So, using that parameter, you could cook up a theory that maybe 20th overall and 98th overall could do it. But the 49ers could want more than that, especially because there has to be a clear desire to keep Aiyuk.

Either way, this one feels like something that will happen later than right now. The 49ers and Aiyuk are in the middle of contract negotiations, but if they sour over the summer, perk your ears up then. For now, this one is probably dead in the water for some time.

Tyler Lockett, Seahawks

Another name that could make sense, but it won’t happen before the NFL Draft. Lockett is a talented player who could be the perfect route runner in the Arthur Smith offense, especially because he is one of the more natural separators in the entire league when it comes down to it.

Lockett just restructured his deal with the Seahawks this offseason, which would make a pre-June 1 trade costly to Seattle. If they traded Lockett now, that would incur a $27.8 million dead cap hit and cost the Seahawks an additional $8.9 million in cap space on top of what is slated to cost.

Pittsburgh Steelers Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett (16) is introduced before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

But if they waited until after June 1, a Lockett trade would only have a $13.9 million dead cap hit this season, while saving Seattle’s cap in 2024 $5 million in room. To the Steelers, Lockett would be a bargain, with just $4.67 million in guaranteed salary and $340,000 in roster bonuses.

But Lockett said in a press conference earlier this week that he does not want to be traded, and it seems the Seahawks are likely operating that way, too. But if he comes onto the market, this is an obvious connection.

Courtland Sutton, Broncos

If there is one that could be a bigger splash but feels more likely, this one does. The Broncos are not in this thing to win it this year; in fact, they might be looking to try to bounce to the top of the draft board for the 2025 season. But Courtland Sutton has the Russell Wilson and profiles as the contested catch, big-bodied guy that the team was looking to add when Mike Williams was targeted.

Steelers Playoff

ORCHARD PARK, NY – NOVEMBER 24: Denver Broncos Wide Receiver Courtland Sutton (14) prior to the National Football League game between the Denver Broncos and the Buffalo Bills on November 24, 2019, at New Era Field in Orchard Park, NY. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

Take it from the long view, and Sutton’s cap savings after June 1 would rack up to over $10 million. Even before then, the Broncos can stomach a trade, and Sutton has been rumored to perpetually be on the trade block for nearly a year at this point. It’s obviously not the same level of splash as Aiyuk or some other massive names that were thrown around, but Sutton has the connections and probably would not cost a ton to land in a trade, either. So, this makes sense on multiple levels.

The Texans WR Situation

The Houston Texans’ wide receiver room is now deep and loaded after the Stefon Diggs trade, so naturally, this could be a possible place to look for a trade. Robert Woods and John Metchie are the two to watch, and obviously less flashy, and in Metchie’s case, less proven, than the names above.

Woods played alongside Nico Collins and 2023 rookie Tank Dell as Houston’s top three receivers. With the addition of Diggs, one of them will be pushed out, and it could be Woods because of his cap hit and relative lack of production last season. In 2023, Woods was fourth on the Texans in receiving yards with 426, well behind Collins (1,297), Dell (709) and Noah Brown (567), who stepped into a starting role after Dell broke his leg mid-season.

Woods is entering the final season of a two-year contract. His salary cap hit would be reduced to $6.25 if he’s traded, with the Texans saving that amount and absorbing a $3.25 million dead cap hit. Houston isn’t necessarily in dire salary cap straits, but that’s a large hit for a No. 4 wide receiver.

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Trade Target Houston Texans John Metchie III

Houston Texans wide receiver John Metchie III (8) in action during the first quarter of an NFL football game against Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023 in Houston, TX. (AP Photo/Maria Lysaker)

A 2022 second-round pick, Metchie missed his entire rookie season after tearing his ACL in the SEC Championship Game at the end of his college career in 2021 and then receiving a leukemia diagnosis the following May. Last summer, he was cleared to return to football after beating cancer, but the Texans used him only sparingly. He caught 16 of 30 targets for 158 yards and also played on Houston’s punt and kick return special teams units.

These possibilities are further down the list just because they do not necessarily check off the boxes that the Steelers would love, but it has to be mentioned.

Treylon Burks, Titans

A former first-round pick who was supposed to replace A.J. Brown, Burks has not clicked yet with the Titans. But his dense frame, and noted yards after the catch ability all are reminiscent of what Smith likes in his wide receivers, so it would be no surprise if the team checked in on Burks, who might be on the outs after Calvin Ridley slotted into the lineup next to DeAndre Hopkins.

Pittsburgh Steelers Treylon Burks

Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks against the Pittsburgh Steelers, November 2, 2023 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Burks would not cost much, but he is also not proven and does not fully check off the boxes to get a true upgrade in the building. But it does seem like Tennessee at least has him on the outs unless he can step up and prove to the new staff that he is worthy of being the No. 3 wide receiver. So, realistic, yes, but it does not check off a ton of boxes for the Steelers.