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Saunders: Trading Away Veterans Doesn’t Make Sense for Steelers

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For at least the second time this season, a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers has requested a trade, as backup outside linebacker Melvin Ingram has reportedly asked to be dealt from the Steelers amid a declining role own the defense.

No. 4 wide receiver James Washington made a similar request before the season. Pro Football Focus has suggested that the team could move on from tight end Eric Ebron and cornerback Joe Haden, though those players have not been reported to be seeking a way out of Pittsburgh.

But trading away veterans before the Nov. 2 deadline makes little sense for the Steelers.

The team had every opportunity to enter a rebuilding phase this offseason, and move on from big-contact and big-name veterans, none more prominently than quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Instead, the team decided to bring Roethlisberger back and attempt to put the best possible team around him for the 2021 season.

That included not trading away veterans, but going out and getting a bunch this offseason, including Ingram and Trai Turner in free agency and trading for Joe Schobert to add to the team this summer.

They’ve played just six out of 17 games since that happened and will have only one more before needing to make a trade deadline decision. The worst they can be is 3-4 — hardly bad enough to start a fire sale, and not even really unexpected given the strength of the team’s early schedule. After Sunday’s trip to Cleveland, the Steelers have the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions at home, with a combined 3-11 record.

It would take a significant downturn in play from the Steelers for them to not emerge from this three game stretch with a winning record, and it’s not like this was a team that was ever destined for the No. 1 overall seed. Getting to 10 wins and a playoff berth would be a very good outcome for them, and a 5-4 start would put them exactly halfway there.

In short, this is the kind of outcome the Steelers were hoping for when they put this team together, so there’s little reason to start tearing it apart now.

Now, if a player is truly unhappy and would cause problems in the locker room if he’s made to stay, then the Steelers should probably look to move. They certainly could use the draft capital after trading for Schobert and seemingly wasting a pick on acquiring cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.

But there’s a difference between responding to player requests and managing the locker room and looking to actively get rid of guys. The former might make sense, but the latter certainly does not.

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