The Pittsburgh Steelers were dealt a huge blow on Saturday with the news that wide receiver Martavis Bryant will likely be suspended for the 2016 season due to him violating the league’s substance abuse policy once again. While the offense certainly would miss having Bryant, one of the league’s top deep threats, the unit would still be in relative good shape at the position without him.
For starters, the Steelers wisely re-signed veteran wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey to a three-year contract just prior to the start of the new league year. Additionally, Sammie Coates should have a bigger role in the offense in 2016 after playing very little during his rookie season. Coates did step up in the absence of injured wide receiver Antonio Brown during the Steelers playoff loss to the Denver Broncos and that certainly was a great sign for the former third-round draft pick out of Auburn.
The Steelers also signed unrestricted free agent tight end Ladarius Green this past week to a four-year contract and while he’ll be used a lot as a blocker on the end of the line, he can also be lined up in the slot and detached out wide due to his speed, size and athleticism.
Let’s not forget that fellow wide receiver Markus Wheaton will be back in 2016 as well and more importantly that he’s entering the final year of his rookie contract. He stands to really hit the jackpot next offseason as an unrestricted free agent if he puts together a solid year.
While he’s yet to play a single NFL snap, Steelers undrafted wide receiver Eli Rogers should be able to compete for a roster spot in 2016 now that he’s fully recovered from the foot injury that he suffered last year during training camp that resulted in him spending the entire 2015 season on the Reserve/Injured list. Former undrafted free age t wide receiver Shakim Phillips will also likely be competing for a roster spot this offseason after spending time on the team’s practice squad in 2015.
On top of everything else, the Steelers might just decide to use one of their late-round draft picks this year on another developmental wide receiver. The team was awarded a sixth-round compensatory selection in this year’s draft on Friday and that pick will essentially replace their original sixth-round selection they traded away to the Jacksonville Jaguars to acquire veteran kicker Josh Scobee last year during the preseason.