While Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert continues to threaten the possibility of the team keeping wide receiver Antonio Brown if the organization is unable to receive appropriate compensation for his skills, it’s exceedingly unlikely that he doesn’t get dealt. Or at least that is the prevailing opinion.
It’s arguably the most talked about topic in all of football right now, after all, as is Brown’s next landing spot. But as for the Steelers, they have to start looking ahead to the post-Brown world, and Colbert was asked about that at the end of his appearance on the NFL Network yesterday.
Addressing whether or not the team feels comfortable in their offense if Brown is taking out of it, Colbert went down the list, starting with the wide receiver group, which figures to include JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Ryan Switzer, and perhaps Eli Rogers.
“It’s a young group around the receivers. Antonio’s in his prime. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s just now emerging into a significant player for us, and James Washington, who we drafted last year, he had a rough start because he dropped a few too many balls by his standards because he has excellent hands, and he grew as the season went on”, he said. “So that’s a young position”.
When it comes to the running back position, perhaps it’s slightly notable that the name of Le’Veon Bell never crossed his lips. He immediately went to James Conner and Jaylen Samuels. “Our running backs, it’s a young position. We’re dealing with a third-year guy this season coming up in James Conner and a second-year guy in Jaylen Samuels”, he said. “Could we add to that? Absolutely”.
Outside of the obvious likely departures in Brown and Bell, there are also some notable free agents at the tight end and offensive line positions, those being Jesse James and Ramon Foster, respectively. But Colbert’s remarks didn’t express much concern.
“Our tight end position, you know, it’s a strong position in our opinion with Vance McDonald and potentially keeping Jesse James in the mix”, he said of that group. “And our offensive line’s pretty solid. So, that group, that’s come together pretty well, and again, it’s a younger group, especially at the skill positions”.
He sounds confident in the team’s ability to re-sign James, and Foster himself has already said that the Steelers have reached out about signing him to a new contract, so that is another work in progress that will probably be kicking into high gear next week.
Basically, the offense could be identical to last year outside of Brown, and they will undoubtedly add a piece here or there as supplements, while relying upon internal growth from players such as Conner, Washington, Samuels, Switzer, and others.
Is that enough to win a championship? Even to this day it’s hard to win one on your own, but if the defense can do a better job, even if only in the fourth quarter, and maybe intercept a couple more passes, perhaps then.