The Steelers, after a disastrous start to the 2019 season, made several trades to help right the ship prior to the deadline. After an 0-2 start, the Steelers made the unorthodox decision to trade their 2020 first-round pick to Miami in exchange for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who on Sunday scored his third defensive touchdown since joining the Steelers. Less than two weeks after acquiring Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh swapped future late-round draft picks to acquire tight end Nick Vannett to help add depth to the position. While Vannett ultimately did not stay in Pittsburgh longterm, he helped the Steelers salvage what many thought was a lost season after Ben Roethlisberger went down with a season-ending elbow injury.
Pittsburgh is in a vastly different place with this year's trade deadline just around the corner. With Big Ben back under center, the Steelers are off to their first 5-0 start since 1978, the season that saw them win their third of four Super Bowls in a six-year span. While Roethlisberger is off to the best statistical start of his career, Pittsburgh has picked up where it left off last season after acquiring Fitzpatrick. On Sunday, the Steelers joined the 1985 Giants as the only two defenses in league history to record at least three sacks and one interception during the season's first five games.
The Steelers did take a personnel hit on Sunday, however, when starting inside linebacker Devin Bush reportedly suffered a torn ACL that will require season-ending surgery. When asked about the prospect of replacing Bush, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin expressed confidence in backup Robert Spillane, who recorded six tackles after replacing Bush during Pittsburgh's 38-7 win over Cleveland. Tomlin added that he expects second-year linebacker Ulysees Gilbert and third-year veteran Marcus Allen (who has moved from safety to linebacker) to help fill the void left by Bush's absence.
That being said, the Steelers may still consider getting outside help to replenish their linebacking corps. If they decide to seek outside help, here are three linebackers they should consider trading for (along with what they might need to give up) before the league's Nov. 3 deadline.
Avery Williamson for a 2021 fourth-round pick
The 28-year-old, seven-year veteran is in the middle of a three-year, $22.5 million deal he signed in 2018. It would likely take a mid-round pick to acquire Williamson from the Jets, who have already begun shipping away players after releasing Le'Veon Bell, and trading veteran defensive tackle Steve McLendon to the Buccaneers following Sunday's loss to the Dolphins. Williamson himself said that "nobody is safe" following the team's release of Bell, a claim Jets coach Adam Gase didn't dispute when asked about Williams' comment.
A fifth-round pick in the 2014 draft, Williamson spent his first four season with the Titans before signing with the Jets two years ago. In 84 career regular season games (79 starts), Williamson has tallied 533 tackles, 14.5 sacks, four interceptions, 17 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. While he is not the best in pass coverage, the 6-foot-1, 246-pound Williamson is a solid tackler who has a knack for being around the ball.
Jarrad Davis for a 2021 fifth-round pick
Pittsburgh brought Davis in for a pre-draft visit in 2017 before the Lions took him with the 21st overall pick. Tomlin loved Davis coming out of Florida, according to The Athletic's Ed Bouchette, which could lead to the Steelers working out a trade that brings him to Pittsburgh.
Despite some early success in Detroit, the Lions declined to pick up his fifth-year option, meaning that Davis will be a free agent this offseason. He is just two years removed from a 2018 season that saw him tally 100 tackles, six sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Davis, who has been used more in Detroit as a pass rusher, has proven to hold his own when it comes to pass coverage. And while the Lions have apparently given up on him, Davis, at just 24 years old, might just need a change of scenery in order to realize his full potential.
Myles Jack for a 2021 third-round pick
Despite being just 25 years old, Jack, the only remaining starter from Jacksonville's talented 2017 defense, has become the elder statesmen of the Jaguars' young, rebuilt defense. Jack's status within the Jaguars' organization may make this trade a harder one to pull off, which is why it will likely require a Day 2 draft pick to make this a possibility. That being said, Jacksonville, at 1-5, may decide to trade pieces in exchange for future draft picks before the deadline.
A second-round pick in the 2016 draft, Jack has recorded 328 tackles, three interceptions, 12 passes defensed, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and two defensive touchdowns in 64 regular season games (with 58 starts). He recorded an interception off of Roethlisberger in Jacksonville's 2017 playoff upset over the Steelers before forcing and recovering a fumble in the Jaguars' AFC title game loss to the Patriots. And while he would be a good fit in Pittsburgh, Jack's lucrative contract (he's in the middle of a two-year, $57 million contract) and recent ankle injury makes it a bit of a stretch. That being said, the fact that Jack was in the middle of several trade rumors before the start of the season gives this scenario some legs.