The Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the NFL’s most pleasant surprises this season, getting off to a 4-2 start. They sit a half-game behind the Baltimore Ravens for first place in the competitive AFC North. However, it is pretty obvious to anyone who has been watching that the Steelers are very vulnerable and have numerous holes that require patching.
Fortunately, Pittsburgh still has some time between now and the Oct. 31 NFL trade deadline to make some moves. Here are three trade targets the Steelers should pursue.
Jaylon Johnson, Chicago Bears
If there is one area where the Steelers need significant help, it’s at cornerback.
Pittsburgh is 25th in the league in passing defense, which has a lot to do with the fact that the Steelers don’t have great talent at the cornerback position. Fortunately, they have a couple of good safeties—led by Minkah Fitzpatrick—to help mask some issues in coverage, but they still need upgrades.
Jaylon Johnson would represent one heck of a get for Pittsburgh. The question is, do the Bears actually want to move him? The Steelers have been mentioned as a potential destination for Johnson in the event of a trade, but Chicago seems a bit reluctant to sell off pieces at the deadline for the second straight year.
Johnson will be a free agent at the end of the season, so the Bears may want to pull the trigger if they receive a strong enough offer. Should Chicago place him on the block, Pittsburgh should jump at the opportunity to add him.
Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals
The Steelers actually have a solid group of wide receivers with George Pickens, Diontae Johnson and Allen Robinson. However, they are seriously lacking at tight end. Right now, Connor Heyward is Pittsburgh’s top guy at tight end, and he has logged just 19 catches since being drafted in the sixth round in 2022. How about going after Zach Ertz?
Ertz may not be the same elite pass-catcher from his days with the Philadelphia Eagles, but he remains a reliable veteran who could provide Kenny Pickett with a security blanket over the middle.
The 32-year-old has sure hands and would open up the field for the Steelers’ impressive receiving corps. He also probably wouldn’t cost too much in a trade, as the Cardinals appear headed for a rebuild and would surely like to get out from under Ertz’s contract (his deal expires after 2024).
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
The Steelers’ running backs have not exactly been a hallmark for efficiency this season, as both Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are averaging just 3.9 yards per carry. Why not pursue Tennessee Titans halfback Derrick Henry? Henry may be on the trade block, as the Titans are just 2-4 and are facing an inevitable rebuild. They have already moved safety Kevin Byard, so Henry could be next.
Pittsburgh could kill two birds with one stone by adding Henry. Not only would the team significantly improve its rushing attack by bringing him aboard, but it would also keep him away from the division-rival Ravens, who are rumored to be heavily interested in the three-time Pro Bowler.
Henry would probably be costly, but he would be worth it for a Steelers’ ground game that ranks just 28th in the NFL.