The 2017 season is over and in the books, the Pittsburgh Steelers coming up far short of their goal. While they had a regular season record of 13-3, they went 0-1 in the postseason, and that will be the legacy of this previous campaign.
The task at hand is working toward improving that postseason record and assuring that it has a zero in the loss column instead of the win column. We can take a position-by-position look at how they can work toward that goal based on their personnel.
Position: Wide Receiver
Total Positional Figure: 10
Antonio Brown: It’s almost hard to believe that Antonio Brown continues to seemingly improve year after year. Some of the catches that he made last season were unreal, and he returned from a calf injury to have yet another big showing in the postseason. Words are wasted describing his greatness.
JuJu Smith-Schuster: JuJu Smith-Schuster is coming off as impressive a rookie season we’ve seen from a wide receiver in Pittsburgh for some time. Though he missed a couple of games, he still put up over 900 yards with seven touchdowns (adding another on a kick return). He has already displayed the ability to develop a complete game, including as a blocker, even being used in a tight end role on running plays.
Martavis Bryant: The 2018 season is a pivotal one for Martavis Bryant for obvious reasons. Now a year removed from a suspension, he is coming off a shaky return that trended upward in the second half of the season. He is in a contract year looking to prove that he can be a top wide receiver, and most likely in another uniform in 2019.
Eli Rogers: Much of Eli Rogers’ future depends on how he recovers from a torn ACL, which he has said is ahead of schedule. As a pending restricted free agent, he will likely remain unsigned until he is at least close to returning. It’s unclear if he is in Pittsburgh’s plans. That could depend on free agency and the draft.
Justin Hunter: The scarcely-used Justin Hunter didn’t have much of an impact as a fifth or sixth receiver last season, but he has reportedly had a good attitude about the team. He could probably be brought back for the minimum, but they may look the in another direction.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: The special-teams ace has had more success running the ball lately than catching it. Whether or not he sticks around again will depend largely on how the roster shapes up, though they also value his presence in the locker room, which would be more important with the retirement of Richard Mann.
Marcus Tucker: Marcus Tucker has been around for a couple of years now and stuck on the practice squad all of last year. There could be an opening for him in 2018, especially if Rogers is not re-signed.
Justin Thomas: Justin Thomas also spent much of the year on the practice squad, though was a favorite to be released when they needed to add another position.
Trey Griffey: Trey Griffey’s highlight at the moment is his genes, though he is a tall target. He has had pockets of productivity at the college level, but they were few and far between.
Tevin Jones: Another tall target, Tevin Jones was also a Reserve/Future signing with Griffey. He had a similar career pattern, little productivity but with occasional explosions.
Offseason Strategy: Plan For The Near Future
I don’t think Bryant will be back in 2019. I don’t know if Rogers will even be here in 2018. The wide receiver group is quickly shaping up to be Brown and Smith-Schuster. Because of that, it is important to get another talent in the pipeline, and given the Steelers’ success in drafting mid-round wide receivers, it’s always a shot worth taking.