Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Steelers trade for Levi Brown

Even at 0-4, the AFC North Cold War isn't over yet. It was announced yesterday that the Ravens had traded a mid-round pick to Jacksonville for former first-round OT Eugene Monroe. Monroe was having a decent season in Jacksonville but with Luke Joeckel waiting in the wings, the Jaguars apparently thought Monroe was expendable (particularly given that his contract expires at the end of this season).

Today, the Steelers announced a corresponding move, adding depth to their offensive line by trading for Arizona LT Levi Brown. Brown was a top 5 pick out of Penn State by the Cardinals in 2007. He broke into the Cardinals starting lineup in 2008 and played the 2008 and 2009 seasons as their right tackle. Most Steelers fans probably remember him for getting posterized by LaMarr Woodley on the Cardinals last gasp in Super Bowl XLIII.

In 2010 he switched to left tackle, where he has played ever since. Following the 2011 season, the Cardinals signed him to a 5-year $30 million contract. Brown tore his triceps in the 2012 preseason and missed the entire year. This was the first time since his rookie year that he did not start a game.

I was able to get some inside scoop on Levi Brown from Scott Allen, editor of You can find him on Twitter @azsportsguy.

How has Levi Brown performed this year?

If you are grading on the curve, I'd say he's had two bad games and two "ok" games.  He was awful against St. Louis and New Orleans.  He was alright in the Detroit and Tampa Bay games.  Go figure the latter are the two games the Cards have won so far.  Coincidence?  I think not. 

What kind of player are the Steelers getting in Brown?

Someone who is big but lacks effort a lot of the time.  He'll surprise you in a positive way one moment and then he'll immediately remind you why you complain about him all the time.  

Any other thoughts on him?

He's really good on run blocking.  His pass protection is just God awful.  As it turns out, I hear the Cards were considering just waiving him at some point instead of trading him if he didn't improve.  I am really surprised the Steelers were willing to trade for him.  Granted, the Steelers didn't give up a whole lot but they have to pay him and they did give up a late round pick for him.  I'm not sure he was even worth that.  I can tell you Cardinals fans are really excited he's gone.  

This isn't the most encouraging analysis for a left tackle, particularly one that is signed through 2016 as Brown is. At this point, things probably can't get much worse than how Mike Adams played against the Vikings. The strange thing is that Max Starks was released yesterday by the Rams, making him available on the free agent market once again. Apparently the Steelers brass is so low on Adams they're willing to give up a pick in next year's draft for a mediocre player signed through 2016. The good news is that Brown restructured his contract with Arizona before leaving so his salary cap hit is at the veteran minimum level for this season. The Steelers need answers and perhaps a change of scenery will do Brown good. The biggest concern for me is giving up a draft pick, even a mid-to-late round pick, next season. The Steelers are already without their 3rd round pick in 2014 because of their trade with Cleveland in order to take Shamarko Thomas. The Steelers cap situation is already bleak heading into 2014, and this move makes things even tighter. All that said, if Brown lives up to his potential and earns his keep on the line, the Steelers may have found their solution at LT for the next 4 years and only had to give up a mid-to-late round pick to do so. As with anything this Steelers season, there is a lot of uncertainty, but we should be willing to give Brown a try (especially given how bad Mike Adams has been.

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