The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How many games will Donte Moncrief start for the Steelers in 2019?
In case you’re one of those weirdos who are actually sleeping at midnight(!), you may be just learning as you wake up that the Steelers agreed to a two-year contract with former Indianapolis Colts third-round draft pick, wide receiver Donte Moncrief.
The wide receiver had become a concern after Antonio Brown forced the team’s hand to trade him, leaving only JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Ryan Switzer, and Eli Rogers under contract. None of them have ever held the number two wide receiver role before.
Moncrief has been a full-time starter for the majority of his career, but has worked with a variety of quarterbacks. I posted the numbers from Pro Football Reference last night, but only 84 of his 200 career catches have come from Andrew Luck, yet 14 of his 21 touchdowns were thrown by him.
He spent last season with Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars as a full-time starter, yet saw just 65 targets from him, catching 32 passes for 518 yards and three touchdowns, averaging over 16 yards per reception. The Jaguars just released Bortles, by the way.
Despite the signing of Moncrief, the Steelers will still be counting on a substantial growth from second-year Washington, and there’s still a more than reasonable chance that a day-two draft pick is used on the position, given that they have three, and they have already addressed the cornerback position.
Moncrief’s signing feels to me reminiscent of the Cincinnati Bengals bringing in Brandon LaFell after they lost Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones in free agency. He came in and started and put up decent numbers, and that was with Andy Dalton. Now Moncrief will work with Ben Roethlisberger.
Still, he figures to have a competitive environment in training camp working against the second-year receiver for playing time, perhaps with the addition of a high draft pick as well. In the post-Brown world, things could be worse.