2017 Offseason Questions: Is Six Receivers A Foregone Conclusion?

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: Should we already assume that the Steelers are going to carry six wide receivers on the 53-man roster?

There is no position on the Steelers’ roster that has been more thoroughly addressed this offseason than wide receiver. While they may have lost Markus Wheaton from last season, they added Justin Hunter in free agency, they got Martavis Bryant back from suspension, and they drafted JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round.

Adding them to the mix of Antonio Brown, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Cobi Hamilton, Eli Rogers, and Demarcus Ayers, we are talking about potentially nine rosterable talents. All eight of them, of course, aside from the rookie, have been on rosters before, after all.

Because of this, it has seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the Steelers are going to choose to carry six wide receivers on the 53-man roster this year, which is not something that they often do. It requires that the back end be filled with special-teams contributors, but they do have that in players like Coates and Heyward-Bey.

Setting aside the fact that injuries can play an obvious role in this discussion, the Steelers could, for example, consider trading a wide receiver in order to address a position with less depth. They have a recent history of trading both picks and players in order to do so. They traded a player for a running back in 2013, and a pick for two cornerbacks and a kicker in the past two years.

Or, of course, they could simply have more needs at other positions. Perhaps there is an extra outside linebacker or cornerback that they would rather hold on to. Maybe even another defensive lineman, or a tight end, especially if they were to trade for one, or sign one.

I must admit that it seems awfully reasonable to believe that they will carry six wide receivers this year. There’s just too much talent to suggest it’s not a very realistic possibility. But is it a foregone conclusion before we even get into training camp?

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