The Steelers cut their losses late Sunday night with an eye toward the future.
By trading starting wide receiver Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets, the Steelers figured their relationship with him was only going to get worse.
Holmes had repeated brushes with the law. He was suspended for a game two years ago for using marijuana, was recently hit with a lawsuit in Florida for an alleged assault and faces a four-game suspension at the beginning of the upcoming season for substance abuse.
He was also approaching the final year of the five-year contract he signed as a rookie and was probably headed elsewhere after this season anyway.
When a team is in such a desperate position to move a player, it can't really expect much in return. The Steelers basically received a token from the Jets, a fifth-round pick in next weekend's draft.
The Steelers haven't had much luck with second- and third-round picks in the last few years, let alone fifth-rounders. They'll be lucky if two of their four fifth-round selections this year stick.
Possibly the only way the fifth-round pick could pay off immediately is if they take a highly-touted kicker who could make Jeff Reed, another player who's had problems off the field, expendable.
The Steelers, in hindsight, should have tried to trade Holmes before they were so desperate. They had already signed free-agent receivers Antwaan Randle El and Arnaz Battle in the offseason, so it would seem likely the Steelers were already preparing for Holmes' departure.
The guess is the Steelers aren't so much worried about what they got in return as they were eager to get rid of Holmes, which helps send a message to the rest of the team. The Steelers learned Monday that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won't be charged in the highly-publicized alleged sexual assault that took place recently in Georgia.
With the Steelers' reputation starting to spiral out of control, the hope now is that they're taking steps toward getting their image back on the clean side. Second-year player Mike Wallace, the guy most likely to replace Holmes in the starting lineup, seems like a much better person to build in that direction.
Holmes, though, will always be linked to the Steelers as his MVP performance and game-winning catch in Super Bowl XLIII will be forever replayed.
Holmes was everything the Steelers thought he'd be on the field when they selected him in the first round of the 2006 draft.
Off the field, it was a different story.
Let's just say his career with the Steelers went up in smoke.
Frank can be reached at 946-7461 or firstname.lastname@example.org.