You’ve probably sat through an offseason before, so you know what it’s about by now. Prior to the draft, it’s 90 percent mocks, nine percent discussing the mocks, and one percent for assorted other information. After the draft, it’s 90 percent lists, nine percent discussing the lists, and one percent for assorted other information. At least that’s how it feels at times.
Especially when presented with another list, such as one from Reggie Wayne for NFL.com, compiling his top five wide receiver duos entering the 2017 season, a list from which the Pittsburgh Steelers are conspicuously absent.
In Wayne’s estimation, the best duo in the league right now resides in New York, between Odell Beckham, Jr. and free agent signing Brandon Marshall. Noting Marshall’s presence in the red zone (though he had just three touchdowns last year), he writes that “both of these players will demand the full attention of opposing defenses”.
Second on the list in his reckoning is the duo of former Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and his teammate, Demaryius Thomas. Both players had around 1000 yards and five touchdowns last season. Not their best numbers, but that was in a transition year at quarterback.
Rounding out the list are Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson in Tampa Bay, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree in Oakland (for now), and finally, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in Jacksonville.
And the Steelers can’t get on this list?
There are two things in particular that stand out to me. For one thing, in 15 games, Antonio Brown bettered or very nearly equaled the scoring output of every duo on the list short of Evans (who had 12 on his own, as did Brown) and Jackson. If I recall correctly, this game is still ultimately about scoring points.
Another thing that stands out is that, aside from the Jaguars, who are easily the least qualified to be on this list, all the other entrants onto the list have at least one free agent. Two of them are free agents who have yet to play a game for their team.
The Steelers have homegrown talent in Brown and the returning Martavis Bryant to chew on. Sure, you could argue that pundits would be afraid to pick the Steelers because Bryant hasn’t played football in a year, but you would think they might at least get a passing mention.
Not that I’m all that hung up about the Steelers’ exclusion from this list, but it’s just hard to imagine so many not regretting their decision not to consider them when they look back upon the 2017 season in hindsight, because it seems pretty unlikely that their duo won’t turn in a top-five performance.
And it won’t depend on the integration of a player who has yet to even play a snap for the team.