The 2013 season has been a nightmare for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The proud franchise is 0-4 for the first time since 1968 and its offensive line has been a shambles.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 15 times through the first quarter of the season — the fourth-most in the league.
So in an attempt to shore up their protection, the Steelers traded for embattled Arizona Cardinals left tackle Levi Brown.
“It’s a very curious move, because there’s a panic at left tackle in the AFC North, a division right now that’s off to a very bad start,” ESPN NFL analyst John Clayton told Doug and Wolf Wednesday on Arizona Sports 620. “You saw the trade that was made (Tuesday) night with Eugene Monroe going all the way from Jacksonville to Baltimore and now Pittsburgh trying to do something to get their bad offensive line fixed.
“But of course, I still kind of scratch my head and say ‘OK, are you really fixing it with Levi Brown?'”
Clayton believes this is a desperation move by Pittsburgh, who still isn’t out of the AFC North race despite being winless. Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland are all 2-2 through four weeks of the season.
“Clearly the move is to get somebody who is accomplished on that offensive line to get something going,” Clayton said.
Brown will now be reunited with Todd Haley, the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh who served in the same capacity with the Cardinals early in Brown’s career.
“It does show that Todd Haley does have still a little bit of a vote because it’s somebody he knows, so I guess you can say that organizationally, Todd Haley is still in the mix,” he said.
Some may consider trading a starting left tackle heading into Week 5 as a “white flag” move — one that signifies the team’s realization that they’re not going to compete for the postseason. Clayton doesn’t think that’s necessarily the case with the Cardinals.
“It’s not like they’re giving up on the season, I think that’s pretty clear,” Clayton said. “I think what it is, is they’re trying to move a contract, because you can only have so many big contracts on a team and obviously Levi was making $30 million, and so they were able to move that contract and get some value for him.
“But also, you get it off the books. You don’t have to worry about the proration down the line with the signing bonus and all that stuff.”