The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Who will be the Steelers’ number two wide receiver on opening day in 2017?
There are a lot of questions that the Steelers need to find answers to between now and September, but perhaps one of the most crucial and compelling questions is, quite simply, who is going to be their number two wide receiver across from Antonio Brown when the 2017 season starts.
That is a question that they spent most of the 2016 season without a satisfactory answer as candidate after candidate was whittled down and neutralized for one reason or another. One can’t help but wonder how the season might have gone differently with a more consistent receiving threat across from Brown.
There are, I think, two primary candidates, along with multiple other realistic possibilities, and the two primary candidates may well come with the biggest questions surrounding them, those being Martavis Bryant and Sammie Coates.
Bryant exploded onto the scene as a rookie, and had a fairly successful sophomore season as well, showing particular effectiveness in the playoffs, but he was forced to sit out all of the 2016 season while serving an indefinite suspension. He applied for reinstatement, but his future is still up in the air.
As for Coates, he filled the void that Bryant left and showed that he can be very effective during the first five games until a hand injury completely derailed his season. Until we see him in a game again, we really can’t say anything definitive about him.
Markus Wheaton has to remain a possibility due to the number of questions with the others, and the fact that Wheaton’s injury-riddled contract year may keep his price tag low. The Steelers do like him and may want to keep him at the right price.
I would not rule out the possibility of a free agent signing, or a first-round draft pick, entering the lineup on day one, especially if things don’t go well with some of their other options. After all, the championship window is closing.