Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures - The Steelers Trade For Levi Brown

“We’ve gotten below-the-line work and that’s the reality of it. It needs to be above-the-line and we’ll turn over any stone in order for that to happen.” - Mike Tomlin on the play of the offensive line

The Arizona Cardinals have agreed to terms on a trade that would send left tackle Levi Brown to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Will he provide the "above-the-line" play Tomlin spoke of above?

Brown was a first round pick in 2007, the 5th overall out of Penn State. He played two years under Todd Haley at Arizona, including protecting Kurt Warner in their Super Bowl season of 2008, and also played well at the end of 2011.

Brown was injured in 2012, though, and has graded out poorly according to Pro Football Focus so far this season.

The Cardinals had thought enough of Brown to sign him in 2012 to a five-year contract worth $30 million with a $7 million signing bonus and $8 million guaranteed. That changed.

"The tackle we evaluated in 2011 was a heck of a left tackle," Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said of Brown. "The tackle that we got back isn't the same guy."

Cardinals GM Steve Keim said something similar: "Levi Brown was not living up to our expectations on the field."

The Steelers won't have to absorb that money, though, because, as Bob Labriola reports, the Cardinals renegotiated before the trade.

Isaiah Green has been released to make a roster spot.

As far as the player not living up to expectations, the number bear this out.

While Mike Adams was the 68th ranked tackle (out of 72 eligible) according to Pro Football Focus, Brown was only slightly better at number 60. PFF further reveals that Brown has been involved in 269 plays this season and has been bad in pass blocking, grading out at -8.5, but on 174 run plays has graded out at +2.9. By comparison, Adams grades out at -10 and -1.2 respectively.

If Brown returns to his previous potential and form, he could be a rock at left tackle. If he cannot recover well enough from his injury and advance, he can be cut without further monies being paid to him. He will, though, still have cost the Steelers another draft pick (they traded their third-round pick during the 2013 draft).

A certain blog/website reported on Tuesday that offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum had usurped Adams in practice and would be starting against the New York Jets on October 13th. This is completely wrong, or at least incompletely accurate and premature.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly reported Wednesday morning that the entire starting offensive line was benched during practice on Tuesday. Rightly so.

But the Steelers have yet to announce a new starting left tackle yet, whether it be Brown or Beachum.

Regardless, if Brown isn't the pedigree that the Steelers are "obviously" banking on, it will be yet another failed move by Kevin Colbert. -

Moves that have cost the Steelers much in the way Salary Cap problems, and have caused the Steelers to have an offensive line reminiscent of the Keystone Cops.

Though Levi Brown isn't Duane Brown, I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures.