Levi Brown Deal Merits A Wait And See Approach

By Matthew Marczi

Yesterday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers attempted to address their situation at the left tackle position by trading a conditional late-round draft pick to the Arizona Cardinals to acquire Levi Brown. There were many questions and some head-scratching surrounding the move, but now that the dust has settled, it seems to make sense.

Of course, a big part of that was revealed later in the evening after much of the dissenting thought had already been aired. Jason La Canfora reported that as a part of the trade, the Cardinals agreed to pay for all but the veteran minimum of Brown’s salary for the 2013 season.

When you factor in the displacement of the contract of Isaiah Green, whom the Steelers released in order to make room for their new lineman, the cost to the salary cap is negligible at a few hundred thousand.

In return, the Steelers get what may very well be their most viable option at left tackle right now, even if it may not seem like much. Brown, a former fifth overall draft pick, has been a starter since his second season in 2008, and moved to left tackle in 2010.

Excluding the 2012 season, which he missed due to injury, Brown has logged 36 starts at left tackle, which is by far the most experience that the Steelers can claim to have on the roster at the moment.

Neither Marcus Gilbert nor Kelvin Beachum have any starting experience at left tackle. Gilbert practiced there this offseason, and Beachum has taken a couple of series at left tackle, but that is the extent of their experience. Mike Adams’s experience as a left tackle is what prompted the trade.

Speaking personally, I believe the jury is still very much out on Brown and what he can offer the Steelers. It is still highly questionable that Brown would even be projected to start following the off week. It has previously been reported that some expect Beachum to be given the opportunity, but there is still a week and a half for that situation to sort itself out, as the Fernando Velasco situation did early in the year.

There is no hiding the fact that Brown has his issues in pass protection. After all, the Cardinals paid to get rid of him and did not ask terribly much in return. But of the four sacks he has given up this year, three came in the first game, which was his first since 2011. Perhaps he had some cobwebs to shake out.

His run blocking, on the other hand, has not been an issue this season, nor throughout his career. There really is not much for the fan base to do in this situation but take the wait and see approach. Will he even play? If he does, will he be an upgrade? Surely, the least he can offer is a seventh lineman that can actually play in a game to allow Beachum to do other things, which evidently cannot be said for Guy Whimper.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Nolrog

    Low risk, high reward move. I like that they tried to do something. We’ll see how it pans out. I do suspect, though, that he will start against the Jets.

  • Jason

    I see no downside here. At worst you paid next to nothing to slightly upgrade a huge position of need and it doesn’t work out so you cut ties and start back at square one in the off season. At best you got a relatively young former #5 overall pick that needed a change of scenery and performs up to his potential and your LT problem is solved. Fingers crossed

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I am with you Matt…for me I am waiting to see what happens. I think this move can benefit Adams quite a bit as you have a successful LT that can help mentor Adams so if Adams can be a decent LT, maybe Brown can help get it out of him.

  • charles

    Clear proof that Colbert has issues. Let known commodity Starks go with a slight kick to the pants. Then comes Whimper. All of this while that dope decided a doper (adams) was the man. Now desperate with a guy that Arizona paid to get rid of?!?
    These curiosities lead me to this conclusion: This is not Tomlin’s team, it is Colbert and another fellar higher than Colbert who are running and ruining the Steelers. Straight out of the Al Davis and Jerry Jones playbook.
    Overall hope that Brown works like Velasco does. If so, we are going to the playoffs this year anyway by outscoring all of our opponents.

  • dgh57

    We made the right move by not bringing Starks back. He has since been released by the Chargers and then the Rams. That’s proof enough to me that his best days are behind him. Where Colbert went wrong was not having a backup in place either through the draft or FA before the season started.

  • Chad H

    On paper the deal looks good. We will know in December if it all works out. With all the needs going into the draft I believe we will need 1 starting tackle, 1 project tackle and 1 starting guard. Sucks we lost Ebernate. He would have gained experience and may have been a starting guard next year.

  • Bilgewater D

    Does anyone realize that the Ravens are only paying Monroe 540,000 for the rest of this season and that is his cap hit to them as well?

    Ozzie knows what he’s doing, they’re actually paying less for Monroe than we are for Brown, Ughh.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    There really isn’t a downside here, unless he fails. We need some help bad, and if this doesn’t work out then it will be seen as a failure regardless of the fact it won’t cost us much and the draft pick won’t be much to give up.

  • Impact3697

    The Ravens did however have to give up a fourth and a fifth, which isn’t a huge amount but still a lot more than the steelers gave up, (reported as a seventh).. I would obviously rather have Monroe too, but if he plays well this year, he’s a ufa and will command big bucks.. Whereas if Brown plays decent this year, he still has another year on his deal. While I don’t believe he’ll play well enough to deserve to be paid the $5 million on his contract, they could at least restructure him, if they decide they want to keep him. At least he should be a valuable backup, and he may have potential to move to guard like Colon did..
    I hope we can get back into the division race this year, but I like that we didn’t give up multiple picks, mortgaging some of the future for this year’s 0-4 start

  • Bilgewater D

    Yes, the picks are true, but do you really see the Ravens not signing Monroe to a long term contract to protect Flacco if he plays well this year?

  • rizzo29

    Great another stiff who can,t run or pass block, he,ll fit right in

  • cencalsteeler

    You, my friend, are dead wrong. 540k plus a 4th and 5th rounder and it’s only renting him for the season.
    Now, Brown signed for the vet min. plus once you cut Green, it will only cost the Steelers 300k for a 29 year old vet. who was a first rounder. On top of that, the Cardinals consume close to 3 million of his salary which equates to paying a lot of money for our 7th rounder they will receive. We now have added depth on our oline. Colbert and co. were proactive in addressing our problem. Hopefully, some coaching techniques and some new scenery will help Brown out of his funk. Not sounding so bad now, huh?

  • cencalsteeler

    That would be nice if the Ravens could sign Monroe, but let me remind you, Flacco’s new contract is going to have a $14,800,000.00 cap hit next year.

  • Rednecksrule

    Oh they will coach him up like they did for all of the great Steeler offensive linemen in the Tomlin era…there was.. and then there was… hmmm the overrated Pouncey is about it …