Recapping The Pittsburgh Steelers\’ Trades During The Mike Tomlin-Era

By Cian Fahey

The Pittsburgh Steelers biggest off-season priority may be the upcoming NFL draft, while their levels of activity in free agency this year have remained consistently non-existent until very recently, however the Steelers have never been adverse to making a trade or two during the Mike Tomlin era around this time.

Since Tomlin\’s first draft in 2007, the Steelers have traded draft picks in four of the team\’s five drafts so far.

During Tomlin\’s first year, the Steelers traded up in the fourth round with the Green Bay Packers to bring in punter Daniel Sepulveda. Sepulveda was a quality player for the Steelers who was not brought back this off-season because of recurring injury issues. If he had been able to stay healthy, this would have been an excellent trade for the Steelers.

In the trade, the Steelers gave up two picks which turned into offensive tackle Allen Barbe and linebacker Korey Hall.

Barbe started seven games in three seasons for the Packers before being let go to join the Seattle Seahawks. He was cut by the Seahawks in 2010, landing with the Miami Dolphins, before returning to Seattle last year. He is yet to start a game since playing in Green Bay. In fact, he has only been active seven times since the 2009 season.

Hall came out of school as a linebacker but played fullback in the NFL. In four seasons he never carried the ball for the Packers but had 21 receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown spread out over each year. Last year, he spent his time with the New Orleans Saints without registering a reception or carry.

In comparison to Sepulveda, those stats are hardly overwhelming even considering his lack of durability. Sepulveda was clearly more talented than either of those players and showed it during his first two active seasons. In his first two seasons he had 57 punts which landed inside the 20 with over 5,000 yards total.

In 2007, the Steelers were in need of a kick returner who could add an extra spark to their offense through special teams. By trading for Allen Rossum with their seventh round pick in 2008, the Steelers removed the cumbersome Najeh Davenport from that role and brought in a specialist.

Rossum wasn\’t a star but he did improve the area that year with a 23 yard average, two yards greater than Davenport\’s, for the season as well as a 98 yard touchdown return against the San Francisco 49ers. The Steelers didn\’t have a touchdown return at all, as far as kickoffs go, the previous year. Rossum\’s presence also allowed Santonio Holmes to pick and choose when he returned punts.

The 2009 draft may feature what is the most important trade of the Tomlin-era to this point.

Three years ago, the Steelers traded out of the second round, along with a fourth, for two extra third round selections with the Denver Broncos. Those extra picks turned into guard Kraig Urbik and, more importantly, wide receiver Mike Wallace.

Urbik was let go pretty quickly by the team and eventually became a more than respectable starter for the Buffalo Bills. Wallace on the other hand has become one of the most feared receivers in the NFL and a vital cog of the team\’s current offense.

Wallace is clearly the team\’s leading receiver right now and it is, quite literally, impossible to replace his speed. At 25 years of age he is also still developing with the potential to blossom into an even better player with further coaching.

The Steelers added two quality players while Denver brought in Richard Quinn and Seth Olsen in their places.

Quinn, like Urbik, is no longer with his original team but he has had nothing near the success of the guard. He may be a blocking tight end, but one reception in three seasons is nowhere near enough production for a second round pick.

Olsen is a guard who lasted one season in Denver before spending 2010 on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad. He never made it in Minnesota and started one game for the Indianapolis Colts last year. The Colts\’ offensive line struggled last year, that says a lot about Olsen\’s ability to play at the professional level.

When Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season, the Steelers gave up a seventh round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a proven backup and former starter who was comfortable in their system.

Byron Leftwich may have been injured prior to actually starting in Roethlisberger\’s place but it made perfect sense for the Steelers to bring back their former player. Having he, Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon gave the team outstanding depth which turned out to be vital during the team\’s run to the Super Bowl that year.

The last of the team\’s trades during Tomlin\’s tenure came two years ago with the Arizona Cardinals.

While Bryant McFadden was the main piece of the trade, it was Antonio Brown who made this trade a massive victory for the Steelers. The Cardinals traded up to add quarterback John Skelton, who has been an impressive late round pick, giving up a sixth round pick and McFadden for the Steelers\’ fifth round choice.

McFadden was a fine cornerback for the Steelers during both his tenures with the team when he was fully healthy. However, he was rarely fully healthy. McFadden started out well during the first four games of the season, but he quickly broke down and barely featured at all this most recent season.

He was released this off-season.

Brown alone however turned into a pro bowl wide receiver and kick returner who emerged as a star last year. This trade was a win for both sides despite McFadden\’s struggles.

With the NFL draft only a few weeks away, the Steelers may look to return to trading in the draft after playing straight up last year. The team\’s roster is relatively deep so it could be tempting for them to attain higher quality picks opposed to more opportunities to find diamonds in the rough.

You can follow Cian on Twitter at @Cianaf

  • Derick

    Can you say that Mike will be a better HC than Bill when all said and done? Will he have a better body of work when his time is done? I don’t see Mike leaving any time soon.

  • Jprankster2005

    I’m really getting tired of Wallace wanting to play head games…….. I think they should entertain a trade and see what there offered….. I think they should pick up a good catching TE like Fleener and a WR later in Draft…… Wallace is not going to get what he wants by acting the way he is……. Trade him for a couple draft picks 2 second rounders or a first round and be rid of him….. I know people don’t wanna see it but it’s best because he’s not going to get the money he wants and will not be productive if brought in for the 2.75 this yr. So I hope the steelers will entertain offers and let him go and hopefully Brown doesn’t want to pull the same shit next yr……. GOOD RIDDINGS WALLACE………

  • Jprankster2005

    Bring Nate Washington back lol for Wallace they got money to spend….. Not sure how much Washington is making but wouldn’t mind him being a Steeler again……. Nor would I mind Burress being back…… Trade Wallace for some draft picks and Sign Burress

  • Jprankster2005

    Actually just checked it out Nate Washington had a similiar yr. to wallace and get’s 3.4 million this yr. and next 2 are in mid 3 millions I would like to see him here for that price…… I know alot of u would say I’m crazy but a huge contract with Wallace will make a few key players next yr. hard to sign….. He’s not worth that in my book

  • Jprankster2005

    I would say Bill was more of a hands on guy but Mike is doing one hell of a job and already been to 2 super bowls in 5 yrs. and Cowher took what 14 or 15….. But I still would love to have Cowher as the coach…..

  • Eric87

    Would love Cowher back as coach and Tomlin running the defense would be interesting, though would never happen. Love Tomlin and his gutsy go for it style of playing, while Cowher would go conservative, sure do miss hearing “Lets Go” and “lotta football left”, “we play 60 min and it is physical”. Good ole’ Cowher, a true Steeler forever. And now everyone should know why he really left and wasnt about money or being tired of coaching.
    lots of respect for coach Cowher.

  • Eric87

    question for Dave, if somehow the Steelers keep Wallace and he decides to hold out til week 10(which is mental defective on his part), then would they have to place him on the active roster when he reports or can he be de-activated? If he misses that much time in a new offense, I see no need for him at that point in the season, let the other guys go wild, maybe pick up a role player or new starter at that point in the season plus a pick next year?

  • kevin

    I am not going to call you crazy, but I don’t know where you are getting your stats that Washington had a similar year to Wallace. Under traditional metrics, Washington does have 1 less touchdown and 160 less yards, but ypc was a difference of 2.8 yards for Wallace (huge), 5 more 20+ yd catches for Wallace, 160 more yac yards for Wallace, and 7 more first downs. When you go to advanced metrics it is even more significant. Wallace is top 10 in DYAR(5), YAR (6), DVOA(8), and effective yards (8). Washington was not even top 20 for any of those. Washington is a decent receiver, but he is nowhere close to Mike Wallace. In terms of total ranking for the year, football outsiders has Wallace as 5 in the NFL and Washington at 26. Incidentally, Brown was at 20, which is about where Wallace was his rookie year.

  • Kevin

    Even with McFadden’s struggles, you can’t really go wrong with getting 20 starts out of a 5th round pick. The fact that the Steelers plucked Antonio Brown out of that is simply exceptional.

  • kevin

    Why is Wallace playing head games? This is his job. He is trying to set up his family for generations. I find it interesting when fans make foolish comments like this, especially since they will never be in that position. Wallace has not made any public statements regarding his contract.

  • SteelersDepot

    They have to put him on the 53 once he signs. They could then choose to make him inactive for games after that, should they choose. Doubt it will get that far though.

  • Eric87

    I dont think that people feel negative that Wallace wants a big deal, it is that he is bringing a feeling that he doesn’t care about the team as others are trying to help keep him around. Should he get paid? Absolutely, but there are better ways at approaching the issue than sending threats towards the steelers cuz that dont fly around here, though as you have stated, he has actually not stated this himself, just media rumors. Woodley is the perfect example of how a player should be. The Steelers say that they want you, then you be patient and the $$$ will flow your way. Keep acting like this and be the next T.O and jump from team to team. Oh yea, how many SB’s did T.O. win? Oh yea none!

  • Jprankster2005

    Ok yeah if you get that deep into it no doubt…… But I’m just sayn the dude ain’t going to play for what the steelers are offering so we need to do something to make us a complete team……

  • Jprankster2005

    So u see wallace and the steelers getting a deal down…… Because I’ve heard there about 50 million apart…….

  • Jprankster2005

    Like I’ve stated getting paid 2.75 million in one yr. would set up alot of families for future generations and on average a person that works there whole lifetiem makes a little over a million dollars so I don’t really feel that bad for him when there’s some people like me that work and make 60,000.00 yr. and pay to watch the steelers games which in fact pays his salary…… So do u understand how I feel…… I think he’s a money hungry guy that isn’t loyal….. And I can pretty much guarntee if he keeps it up he won’t be a steeler and will get paid more money but not in Pittsburgh……

  • Eric87

    50mil seems to be a pretty big hurdle, where did you read that info please?

  • Eric87

    Oh I understand as well, I feel the same way. When I heard this posturing by him I was disgusted. If he doesn’t want to play here, then c-ya later. They knew Holmes would never re-sign and unless this guy comes back to earth, neither will he. So yea they should probably try and get what they can, but I wouldnt accept anything less than 2 2nd rounders for him.

  • kevin

    If you think that 2.75 million can set up alot of families for generations, then I can’t argue with you. You must not have looked at retirement projections and the expected costs for college and other significant items in the future. The guy deserves to maximize his earning potential. If he chases every last dollar that is available, then I am okay with that. I think that is a smart decision because ultimately, his ability to help out his parents, gps, bros/sisters, cousins, nieces/nephews, kids, grandkids would outweigh whether I continued to play for a particular franchise, even the Steelers, who will cut me like they did Hines Ward when I don’t provide value.

    Hines Ward was loyal to the Steelers and you saw what that got him. It is a business. I love the Steelers, but I expect them to cut guys who can’t play. I expect those same guys, who I root for because they are Steelers, to leave if they think it is in their interest.

    I don’t think Wallace is posturing any more than the Steelers are posturing.

  • kevin

    These are media rumors. We have no solid evidence that Wallace is doing anything. To compare him to T.O., who did interviews bashing teammates and got into fights with teammates is absurd. Wallace has done nothing to indicate that he is like that.

  • Eric87

    If he is wanting in the 120$mil range,which is the only number I have heard so far, means the Steelers are then offering him in the range of 70mil? That seems pretty fair to me if those numbers are indeed relevant.

  • Eric87

    no I wasnt implyin that he had, yet! All receivers who become prima donna’s end up being a nuisance at some point, though Wallace is nowhere near that point, once again yet!

  • Eric87

    Of course it’s a business and Wallace shouldn’t be blamed, though I am on the Steelers side everytime

  • Eric87

    Also to throw out there, Wallace has made a bunch of great plays over his couple years, but he only game I can remeber that he came through in the clutch was I believe in 2010 when GB came to Pittsburgh and Ben led the team down the field and Wallace made a toe-tap TD in the endzone corner. He dropped a huge 4th down pass in the SB and he dropped that bomb in the playoffs this year. Why should he get 15mil per season as he is asking? We could go back and forth all day and night. Wallace belongs in Pittsburgh and te Steelers should pay him quite hansomely, but not insanely, end of story.

  • Eric87

    7 or 8 years for 70 mil should be a great raise in pay for Wallace and that is the range I have been saying that he should get for a while now. That would be in the 8-10mil a yr range. Probably the hurdle at the moment is the guaranteed money. At 7 years probably anywhere between 35-40mil guaranteed would be huge chunk of cash thrown his way

  • Eric87

    If he would sign a deal in that range,then the 2.7mil tender would be less than a third of what his future totals would be based on yearly totals, approximately of course

  • Jprankster2005

    What I’m sayn is he only has to play one yr. at 2.75 million for the rest of his career would do him great not sayn he isn’t worth more just think he can do a better job at showing he wants to be a steeler

  • PoKey21

    Any explanation on why we let Urbik go so quickly? I cant remember a time in the last decade that the Steelers had a solid enough Oline to let go of quality players at the position. Was he that bad in camp to where he couldnt even make the practice squad? But a year later good enough to become a good starter on a good Oline? I dont get it, Urbik could be filling a huge need for the Steelers. Just wonder why they severed ties? Anyone know?