It’s not the way you’re going to see it worded by most observers.  The Pittsburgh Steelers are well known for their reputation as a classy and upstanding organization.  In recent seasons they have struggled with negative public relations through various transgressions from Ben Roethlisberger, Plaxico Burress and now Santonio Holmes as well.  Now the Steelers have made a statement by trading Santonio Holmes to the New York Jets for a pittance.  When you trade a Super Bowl MVP (and Holmes won the award just a year ago) for a fifth-round draft pick, you’re sending a message.

That message appears to be that the Steelers are prepared to pass on productive and talented players if they prove that they can not uphold the image the organization is seeking to project.  I suspect Big Ben Roethlisberger will be watching this very closely.  He would be advised to tread wisely after his own off the field problems.  No, Pittsburgh isn’t going to trade their franchise quarterback for a fifth-round pick.  But the fact that they’d be willing to deal a player who was integral to their recent success indicates that they place a very high value on optics and on a commitment to certain values.  While Santonio Holmes makes an interesting test case, Big Ben will be the true test of this.

I can see the reasoning behind this deal from the Steelers point of view, but were I a Steelers fan I’d be questioning the return.  Even missing four games due to a suspension this season, he could threaten the 1,000 yard barrier.  Have no doubt that the former first-round pick will make plenty of big plays in an offense that also boasts young QB Mark Sanchez and fellow deep threat Braylon Edwards.  In return for giving up a guy who can stretch the field, the Black and Gold got back a 5th round pick.  While it is possible to pull a valuable asset in the 5th round (Chicago nabbed Johnny Knox there last year) it is not what you would call likely.

You can’t argue the value of Santonio Holmes on the field and I doubt the Steelers would try.  From a pure football perspective, this trade stinks to high heaven.  But when you’re trying to build a certain kind of team and you have a certain image to uphold in your town… sometimes other factors override that.  Steelers fans just have to hope that Mike Wallace is ready for prime-time, and that Hines Ward can give them one more season as a starting-caliber wide receiver.    Jets fans on the other hand are no doubt crowing about the fact that they have added another weapon to an impressive offense and at a value price.

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