The Pittsburgh Steelers strategically enhanced their offensive line through the NFL draft last offseason.

The Bleacher Report NFL scouting department has suggested an unconventional trade approach for the Steelers to further fortify their offensive line in 2024. Bleacher Report proposed that the Steelers pursue a trade to acquire center Ted Karras from the Cincinnati Bengals. The BR staff highlighted the challenge of finding a left tackle in the trade market but argued that upgrading over Mason Cole at center, with the addition of Ted Karras, is a feasible and beneficial option. They pointed out that Karras, a seasoned veteran center, would not only enhance the offensive line but also allow the Bengals to free up $6.4 million in cap space.

While Karras could serve as an improvement over the struggling Mason Cole in 2023, the rare occurrence of trades within the same division, especially one that could potentially benefit a rival, might present a hurdle for the Bengals.

Before joining the Bengals, Karras had successful stints with the New England Patriots, winning Super Bowls in the 2016-17 and 2018-19 seasons, and the Miami Dolphins. Examining Karras’s potential fit with the Steelers, Pro Football Focus player grades positioned him as the 11th-best center with over 1,000 offensive snaps last season, maintaining a PFF grade of 67.4 out of 100 for the seventh consecutive season.

In contrast, Mason Cole struggled with a career-low grade of 53.2 in the 2023 season, ranking 18th out of 20 centers with over 1,000 snaps. Particularly deficient in pass protection, Cole was rated 52nd out of 56 centers in pass blocking. Karras, on the other hand, excels in pass protection, securing the 22nd position among centers who played in 2023.

The Steelers, facing financial constraints with a salary cap exceeding $14.2 million as of January 31, would need to address the affordability of acquiring Karras. With Karras entering the final year of his 3-year contract with the Bengals and counting as a $7.37 million cap hit for 2024, the exact financial details of the trade would need to be negotiated between the Bengals and Steelers.

While the Bengals stand to save $6.4 million in cap space by trading Karras, the feasibility of fitting him under the Steelers’ salary cap hinges on the negotiation of financial terms. The Steelers might need to present an enticing offer to persuade the Bengals to trade a veteran player to Pittsburgh and make him financially viable for the Steelers.

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