The Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to sign an outside free agent so far during the new league year, but they do have a Friday visit scheduled with former Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams and are reportedly interested in New Orleans Saints free agent cornerback Patrick Robinson. Now comes word from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports on Thursday that the Steelers are looking for a returner.
While the Steelers are generally very quiet in free agency/trades they are quietly exploring options for a returner.
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 12, 2015
If we take La Canfora at his word, which is dangerous to do, the list of available free agent returners appears to be quite short.
Sure, Percy Harvin would fit the bill, but how many of you actually think that he would be wanting to come to Pittsburgh for very little money and be the No. 4 wide receiver to boot?
Outside of Harvin, I think that Brandon Tate would be a legitimate option. Tate, who was drafted by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of North Carolina, has spent the last four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Over the course of his career, Tate has returned 172 kickoffs for 4,267 yards and two touchdowns in addition to 127 punts for 1,244 yards and one touchdown.
Tate, however, doesn’t offer much as a wide receiver as he has caught all of 55 passes for 842 yards and five touchdowns during his first six years in the league. Tate should come cheap, however, and that’s something that will be a must if the Steelers wind up wanting to sign him.
Other than Tate, I suppose that Oakland Raiders free agent wide receiver Denarius Moore could potential qualify as a returner. The Tennessee product, however, has only returned two kickoffs during his career and a total of 42 punts.
Atlanta Falcons free agent cornerback Javier Arenas might also be an option as he has returned 73 kickoffs and 106 punts since entering the league in 2010 with the Kansas City Chiefs. Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley should know a lot about Arenas as he was the Chiefs head coach when he was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Alabama.
Last season wide receiver Antonio Brown again returned punts for the Steelers, while fellow wide receiver Markus Wheaton ended the season as the team’s kick returner after running backs Dri Archer and LeGarrette Blount both failed to provide what the team was looking for in that area.
In my opinion, Tate and Arenas are the only real options for the Steelers if indeed La Canfora’s report is even true. If you feel like there are other candidates, feel free to add them in the comments below.