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The Optimist’s Take – Replacing Veteran WR Presence

While the Pittsburgh Steelers may have gained some tangible evidence of improvement, improving their win total by three games and hosting a playoff game as a division champion for the first time in four seasons, there is no doubt that the team is far from a finished product.

No team, of course, is a finished product in the offseason. Every team loses players to free agency and retirement, and replaces them through the same free agency process, as well as the draft.

With all of the change that occurs during the offseason, it’s often difficult to predict how a particular team might fare. They may wind up holding the Lombardi trophy or the first overall draft pick when all is said and done.

In order to gain a better feel for not only the issues facing the team this year, but how those issues might play out, it’s useful to take the devil’s advocate approach. This is the optimistic side of the coin.

Question: Should the Steelers replace the recently released Lance Moore with another veteran receiver?

Last offseason, following the somewhat surprising departure of Jerricho Cotchery in free agency, the Steelers front office looked to close the veteran gap within their wide receiver corps by turning to Lance Moore, signing him to a two-year contract.

Of course, that never quite worked out as was hoped, and the team officially announced yesterday that they released him and his $1.5 million base salary that he was scheduled to earn in 2015.

With the release of Moore, and Darrius Heyward-Bey’s pending free agency, the Steelers are only down to three wide receivers from last season’s 53-man roster, not including the slash weapon of Dri Archer, who has yet to establish himself at any position.

Naturally, the Steelers must address the wide receiver position in some form or fashion, because they aren’t likely to go into 2015 with just the top three receivers from last year plus whoever looks best among their futures contract players.

There is a healthy free agency market for wide receivers pending for the start of free agency. In fact, nine wide receivers have already been released and are available to sign with teams now. If the Steelers wish to double their value with the fourth wide receiver position, there are even a few names on the list that include ample experience in the return game.

Of course, the team won’t be looking at the top tier of free agent names at the wide receiver position. They have ample comfort with the top of their depth chart as it is, even with two of those top three players having essentially a year or less of experience.

Instead of adding another rookie to the mix, leaving Antonio Brown—himself still young—in the role of mentor and babysitter, I feel the wide receiving unit could still legitimately benefit from having an established veteran type of player on the roster, more so like Cotchery than Moore.

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