The Steelers could draft a quarterback this spring as they move forward following Ben Roethlisberger's retirement.
The Jets reportedly prefer to trade their second first-round pick, moving back from the 10th overall selection to acquire more capital or proven players.
Could these two clubs work out a deal over the next few months, providing Pittsburgh with an opportunity to secure their next franchise quarterback?
In a recent article making some bold roster predictions for the 2022 NFL offseason, Michelle Bruton of Bleacher Report singled out the Jets as a "prime candidate" for a first-round trade with the Steelers.
Moving up to the No. 10 overall pick would be beneficial for Pittsburgh as they would leapfrog some other quarterback-needy teams that might pick a signal-caller in the first round. For instance, Washington is on the clock at No. 11 right after New York's selection.
Liberty's Malik Willis and Pitt's Kenny Pickett will be two of the top options at the quarterback position in this year's draft, in addition to Matt Corral (Ole Miss) and Sam Howell (UNC). Pickett wouldn't have to travel far to transition from the Panthers to the Steelers—he also mentioned at the Senior Bowl that it would be "unbelievable" to play for Pittsburgh.
There are also rumors swirling that the Steelers prefer Willis over Pickett. NFL insider Benjamin Allbright chimed in on Twitter this past week, explaining that Pittsburgh would need to "significantly trade up" if they want Willis. Jumping up to No. 10 might do the trick.
Meanwhile, the Jets can still secure another talented prospect at No. 20 with the first-rounder they acquire from Pittsburgh in this hypothetical situation. Plus, they would be adding to their arsenal of draft capital, whether it's an additional pick or two later in the 2022 draft or selections for the following year.
The Athletic's Connor Hughes addressed the return of a Jets-Steelers trade for the 10th overall pick in his latest mailbag:
The Jets’ No. 10 pick is the one Pittsburgh might want, considering its potential interest in drafting a quarterback. The Steelers have the No. 20 pick. The Jets’ selection holds a value of 1,833 points. Pittsburgh’s is valued at 1,482. After swapping, the Steelers would need to find a way to make up roughly 400 points.
Aside from No. 20, the Steelers also hold the No. 52 (second), 84 (third), 137 (fourth), 223 (seventh) and 239 (seventh) picks — the final four are unofficial because compensatory selections have yet to be awarded. Those are valued at 998, 755, 507, 260 and 225 points. From a math perspective, a fair deal would involve the Jets sending the Steelers the No. 10 selection in exchange for No. 20 and 137.
Hughes also brought up a good point when it comes to the level of interest for this year's quarterback class. Those aforementioned names don't necessarily hold the same value as last year's class (Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Mac Jones), but a bidding war looping in multiple teams would make New York's pick at No. 10 even more valuable for clubs seeking to draft a QB.
So, who might be available at No. 20? Depending on how the rest of the first round shakes out, several top prospects could slip to that point. We're talking offensive linemen like Charles Cross, linebackers like Nakobe Dean, edge rushers like David Ojabo and wideouts like Chris Olave.
All in all, more quarterbacks coming off the board early would be the best-case scenario for New York. That opens the door for high-ceiling prospects at different positions to fall into the Jets' lap. Then, general manager Joe Douglas and his team will be ready to pounce.
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