When the Steelers made a mid-week trade to acquire veteran offensive tackle Levi Brown from Arizona, some felt the move smacked of desperation, especially considering Brown was due another $3.6 million in salary this season.
But giving up a late-round draft pick – conditional on how much Brown plays – and getting the Cardinals to pick up $2.4 million of Brown’s salary – seems more genius than desperate on Kevin Colbert’s part.
The fifth pick in the 2007 draft, Brown has appeared in 81 games, starting 79 of them. He’s started all four games at left tackle for the Cardinals this season.
Considering the struggles Mike Adams has had at left tackle for the Steelers, acquiring somebody else capable of doing the job and getting another team to pay most of his salary seems to be a steal in the same vein as the Pirates getting the Yankees to pay for A.J. Burnett.
Certainly there are questions about why Arizona was so willing to rid itself of Brown. After all, teams don’t usually trade capable players, particularly ones who are starting.
But the Cardinals and new coaching staff, led by former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, didn’t think Brown was getting the job done.
Where have we heard that before?
Think back to 2008 and 2009, when there was a disconnect between Pittsburgh’s front office and the offensive coaching staff, led by Arians, about Max Starks. Starks wasn’t guaranteed a starting spot by the coaching staff, led by Arians, but the front office thought enough of him to place a franchise tag on him twice rather than let him become an unrestricted free agent.
Or how about 2011, when Starks was not retained as a free agent after suffering a knee injury in 2010? Four games into the season, with the left tackle position a mess – much like it is today – the Steelers re-signed Starks. He started the final 12 games at left tackle, doing a credible job.
Arians’ track record when it comes to offensive linemen is suspect. You could make the same argument about the Steelers and Colbert. They’ve struck out several times over the years drafting offensive tackles. Anyone remember Tony Hills or Mathias Nkwenti?
But Brown’s been a longtime starter in the NFL for a reason.
Fans in Arizona have trashed him over the years, but that has as much to do with him being the fifth pick in the NFL draft – two spots ahead of Adrian Peterson – as it does his play. If he had been a fifth-round pick rather than the fifth pick, few would complain.
He’ll get a fresh start with the Steelers. He’s not the second coming of Anthony Munoz. But he’s a capable NFL lineman. To acquire one at this late stage for next to nothing just made sense.
Here are this week’s picks.
Denver (minus 7) at Dallas
The Broncos have been unstoppable thus far.
Take Denver, 38-24
New England (plus 1 ½) at Cincinnati
Marvin Lewis is 0-4 against Bill Belichick. Make that 0-5.
Take New England, 27-20
New Orleans (pick) at Chicago
Outside the dome, the Saints aren’t as fearsome.
Take Chicago, 27-24
Seattle (minus 2 ½) at Indianapolis
Should be a defensive struggle. Take the better defense.
Take Seattle, 19-16
Houston (plus 7) at San Francisco
Remember when Houston was a hot Super Bowl pick? Not anymore.
Take Houston to cover in a 24-20 loss
Kansas City (minus 3) at Tennessee
Chiefs have four TDs from their defense and special teams.
Take Kansas City, 24-17
Baltimore (plus 3) at Miami
Ravens are having trouble running the ball and scoring, which is kind of a big deal.
Take Miami, 20-16
N.Y. Jets (plus 9 ½) at Atlanta
Falcons are too good to lose at home to the Jets Monday night.
Take Atlanta, 27-13
Detroit (plus 7) at Green Bay
Packers have won 14 of past 15 against Lions.
Take Detroit to cover in a 38-34 loss
Carolina (minus 2) at Arizona
Panthers are coming off a bye and have won 7 of 8 against Arizona.
Take Carolina, 20-17
Philadelphia (plus 2) at N.Y. Giants
The winless Giants, who have scored seven points in their past two games, are favorites? Why not?
Take the Giants, 27-20
San Diego (minus 4 ½)at Oakland
Game will be played at 11:30 p.m. Sunday night due to baseball playoffs.
Take San Diego, 34-20
Jacksonville (plus 10 ½) at St. Louis
How bad are the Jags? Bad enough they’re 10 ½-point dogs to a winless team.
Take St. Louis, 27-10
Last week: 6-6-2 ATS; 7-7 Straight up
Overall: 25-30-4 ATS; 38-22 Straight up
F. Dale Lolley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org