The 0-4 Steelers won't lose this weekend because, mercifully, they're on their bye. But when they face the Jets in Week 6, they'll do it with renewed purpose, a recommitment to the fundamentals, and almost certainly a new left tackle.
But the move was necessitated by, as coach Mike Tomlin likes to say, the "below-the-line" effort of tackle Mike Adams, the team's 2012 second-rounder. When the news of the trade first broke, Pittsburgh fans were as angry as Arizona fans were elated. Not so much because general manager Kevin Colbert had added another mediocre-at-best offensive lineman, but because the cap-strapped Steelers would have to find the money to pay him the $3.6 million he was owed.
But as CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported Wednesday night, Pittsburgh got Brown for the veteran minimum: $715,000 for the rest of the season. Put another way: Arizona was so eager to get rid of Brown that they're paying the remaining $3 million of his 2013 salary. (There was at least one report that the Cardinals were going to cut Brown if he wasn't shipped out of town.)
“Levi Brown was not living up to our expectations on the field,” Cards general manager Steve Keim said Wednesday, via the team website. "At the end of the day, when you realize he is not in the long-term plans, instead of belaboring the point, it's in the best interests of the organization to move on."
To put this in perspective, the Cardinals, who have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, didn't think Brown was worth the trouble.
Adams, meanwhile, is coming off a horrid effort against the Vikings and Jared Allen, who would be in the Hall of Fame by Week 10 if he faced Adams every week. Adams gave up up 2.5 sacks and countless pressures last Sunday (you can relive the horror here) and it had everything to do with the Steelers dealing for Brown.
But Adams was undeterred Wednesday when speaking to the media about the likely demotion.
"It's a business," he said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "If we're not getting the job done, they have to do what they have to do. I'll just continue to try to get better and keep competing."
Adams, who was stabbed in the stomach and forearm in June 1, said the injury had nothing to do with his poor play. Tomlin spoke to Adams before Wednesday's practice to explain why Brown was acquired.
"He just wants more consistency," Adams said. "That was the main point, technique-wise. I'll just keep working on that."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has spent most of the first month of the season picking himself up off the turf, didn't sound like Brown's arrival would magically fix the O-line.
"I don't have much of a reaction," Roethlisberger said. "I obviously know the name. It's Pittsburgh West out there [in Arizona], so it makes sense. We'll just have to see what the plan is for him and the other guys that are here."
Big Ben also didn't know if Brown would be his new left tackle when the team takes the field again in 10 days.
"We'll see," he said. "It depends on how much works he wants to put in. How much does he want to be here? Is he going to be here all weekend? Does he want to put the time and effort into be that guy? Who knows if he is that guy? Is it [Kelvin ] Beachum or Mike? We don't know. I guess it will be a matter if he can learn the offense when he gets here."
Tomlin said that he was generally pleased with right tackle Marcus Gilbert and that, coupled with the under-the-radar development (via ProFootballFocus.com) that the Steelers' interior offensive line -- right guard David DeCastro, center Fernando Velasco and left guard Ramon Foster -- have played well, this unit could be one player away from ... mediocrity.
Given the beating Roethlisberger has been subjected to, we're guessing he would welcome that.