Steelers Trade For Help At LT

Levi Brown (Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH – After watching left tackle Mike Adams struggle through last weekend's 34-27 loss to Minnesota in London, the Steelers traded for Levi Brown.

Wednesday, the Steelers sent a conditional pick in next year's draft to Arizona to acquire the veteran left tackle. The trade is pending Brown passing a physical Thursday in Pittsburgh.

"We're going to wait and see," said coach Mike Tomlin of Brown's availability for the team's next game, Oct. 13 at New York against the Jets. "His ability to take in and learn information is going to be an element of it.

"We're excited about potentially acquiring a veteran offensive lineman."

Brown, 29, was the fifth selection by the Cardinals in the 2007 draft. The former Penn State star had not missed a start in the past four seasons until suffering a triceps injury in training camp in 2012, an injury that forced him to miss the season. He has made all four starts this season and has appeared in 81 career regular season game, 79 of them starts.

Brown is scheduled to earn $3.6 million for the remainder of this season, the final year of his contract. The Steelers are just $1.9 million under the salary cap and will have to make a corresponding move to free up the cap space. Already they have released cornerback Isaiah Green to make room for Brown on the roster.

The move to acquire Brown was deemed necessary after a game in which Adams allowed three sacks, two quarterback hits and three hurries against the Vikings, working primarily against defensive end Jared Allen, one of the best pass rushers in the league.

"We've gotten below-the-line work, and that's the reality of it," said Tomlin, whose team is off to its first 0-4 start since 1968. "It needs to be above the line, and we'll turn over any stone in order for that to take place."

That includes moving forward with either Brown or Kelvin Beachum at left tackle.

The Steelers had planned to rotate Beachum at left tackle against the Vikings, something that was scrapped when Beachum was forced into the game at left guard when Ramon Foster suffered a pectoral injury.

What the Steelers won't do is shift right tackle Marcus Gilbert to the left side.

"Marcus is playing at a fairly good level at the right and you don't want to mess with other guys too much," offensive coordinator Todd Haley said.

The Steelers knew they would have some issues at offensive tackle early in the season after allowing veteran left tackle Max Starks to leave in free agency, but had spent second-round draft picks on both Adams and Gilbert and wanted to see what they had in those two players. Starks has been signed and released by both San Diego and St. Louis in the past six months.

"We knew when you're playing with young players, it's going to be a work in progress of sorts," Haley said. "I still have great confidence in Mike going forward that he has the skill set, if he continues to work and hone his trade, that he'll be able to help us."

According to Pro Football Focus, Adams is responsible for four sacks, 13 hurries and six quarterback hits in Pittsburgh's first four games. Brown, meanwhile, also allowed four sacks in Arizona's first four games, but just eight hurries to go along with six quarterback hits.

But Brown's play came with statuesque Carson Palmer at quarterback, not Ben Roethlisberger, who has better ability to elude defenders.

Brown, however, never lived up to the hype of being the fifth selection in the draft, especially when many fans wanted running back Adrian Peterson, whom Minnesota selected two picks after Brown was taken by Arizona.

A fresh start for Brown and the Steelers at left tackle could be what both need. Roethlisberger has been sacked 15 times, and the pressure he's been under has attributed to five interceptions and four lost fumbles by the quarterback.

"It's not been good enough," said Haley. "There's been too many pressures, too many hits. But it's not just left tackle, it's across the board. We've got to be better everywhere. We've got to be better getting rid of the football. We've got to be better blocking. When you start getting pressure, it takes everybody. Everybody has got to do a better job."

(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)

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