The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for offensive line help, and they believe Arizona Cardinals LT Levi Brown is the answer. But how much of an upgrade is Brown, really? According to Pro Football Talk, the Pittsburgh Steelers have acquired Levi Brown from the Arizona Cardinals, and the trade is reportedly a “done deal”, pending a physical. The details of what the Steelers have parted with have not been leaked, but I doubt they are giving up what the Baltimore Ravens traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a star left tackle in Eugene Monroe. Brown isn’t a star at all, but he does have more than one year left on his contract, unlike Monroe, though it is not exactly a friendly contract if Brown does not play at a high level.
The Steelers really wanted- and needed- an upgrade on the offensive line, and a trade at the bye week makes sense. This gives their new player time to learn the system before the team’s Week 6 game against the New York Jets, and the Steelers clearly don’t have faith in their own personnel. Their backups on the offensive line aren’t anything to write home about (Guy Whimper is probably the most well-known name of them), but the most importantly takeaway out of this deal is Mike Adams. Brown’s contract takes him until 2017, which means that the Steelers have essentially given up on the second-round pick out of Ohio State.
Levi Brown knows plenty about not living up to a lofty draft status, as he is one of the biggest offensive line busts of the past few decades after being the 5th pick in the 2007 draft out of Penn State. He has plenty of talent and has shown flashes of it, especially recently, for the Cardinals, but he can get beat really badly and has been inconsistent at best. The Cardinals were basically forced to start him going into the year, but now they have finally decided to cut their losses with Brown and give up on his potential to be a consistent LT. They have found a trade partner in the Steelers, and the most interesting thing will be watching what they gave up.
With Brown’s contract and lack of production, I would be shocked if the Steelers parted ways with more than a sixth-rounder for Brown’s services. The big picture item here for the Steelers is that they believe that they have made a significant upgrade at LT, with the bigger picture item being that they have given up on Mike Adams. He has been putrid to this point, but Brown isn’t much of an upgrade over Adams. The former is older, but he is a bit better at this point and has “change of scenery” upside to counter Adams’s “youthful” upside.
The Steelers are doing whatever they can to give Ben Roethlisberger a credible offensive line, and they are also cutting their losses with Mike Adams. The Arizona Cardinals have done the same with Levi Brown, and, hopefully, the Steelers didn’t give up a pick of remote significance for Brown. There is a chance he finally puts it all together and plays well, but that chance is slim. It’s not impossible, but the Steelers should only bet on Brown being a not-too-big upgrade over Adams.