To the surprise of some, Dan Moore Jr. returned to the starting lineup for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7. He played well in his return, appearing to solidify left tackle for the Steelers. But ESPN’s Brooke Pryor argued that if Pittsburgh aims to make a big move before the NFL trade deadline next week, the Steelers could involve Moore in a trade.
“This is a long shot, but if the Steelers wanted to make a splash, they could do worse than trading their starting left tackle — especially with a first-round rookie waiting in the wings,” Pryor wrote. “Broderick Jones, the No. 14 pick in April’s draft, played well in place of the injured Moore against the Ravens in Week 5, but the Steelers restored a now-healthy Moore back to his starting spot in Week 7.”
“With 38 NFL starts under his belt, Moore could fetch a decent return from offensive-line-needy teams.”
Moore has largely struggled this season. The Pro Football Focus player grades have Moore ranked 111th out of 120 NFL offensive tackles with a grade of 41 out of 100 this season. But the NFL is a “what have you done lately” league. In Week 7, Moore earned a 77.5 player grade from PFF. That performance plus his 38 career starts at just 25 years old could make Moore a viable trade piece for another NFL team.
Could the Steelers Move Left Tackle Dan Moore Before the NFL Trade Deadline?
While Moore’s Week 7 performance could make him an attractive trade chip for the Steelers, rookie Broderick Jones is the real reason he could be expendable.
Jones, who the Steelers traded up to draft at No. 14 overall in the 2023 NFL draft, started in Week 5 with Moore dealing with a knee injury.
According to PFF, Jones played well in his first NFL start. He earned a 74.8 PFF player grade in Week 5 against the Baltimore Ravens. Jones has played sparingly in most other games this season. But the rookie left tackle has the fifth-best player grade from PFF among Steelers offensive players in 2023.
Getting Jones more playing time so he can develop into the star he is expected to be is the primary reason for the Steelers potentially trading Moore. Getting a “decent return” as a result of trading Moore would be an added bonus for the Steelers.
Reasons the Steelers Likely Won’t Move Moore at the NFL Trade Deadline
While it’s rather obvious why the Steelers could trade Moore, there’s a reason why Pryor labeled such a move “a long shot.”
Many Steelers analysts were disappointed the team returned Moore to the starting lineup over Jones in Week 7. Again, Moore struggled in the first quarter of the season while Jones played well in his first start.
But now that Moore is coming off his first strong performance of 2023, it’s unlikely the Steelers will now feel comfortable moving to Jones at left tackle. That’s unlikely even if such a move resulted in the team landing additional draft picks.
The Steelers consider themselves a playoff contender, and their moves at the trade deadline will likely reflect that belief. That leads to the second main reason a Moore trade is unlikely. Such a move would deplete Pittsburgh’s tackle depth.
“Because Pittsburgh’s tackle depth behind Moore and Jones is shaky, it’s not a move that would behoove the organization,” wrote Pryor. The Steelers are fortunately to have Jones in case Moore suffers another injury. The same will be the case if Jones eventually becomes the starter at left tackle — Pittsburgh will have a quality backup in Moore in case of an injury.
The compensation will have to be very high in the proposed trade in order for the Steelers to give up protection for young quarterback Kenny Pickett.