A former fourth-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys, wide receiver Ryan Switzer still has a lot to prove—and a lot that he wants to prove—over the course of his NFL career following his first two seasons. And one of those things that he would like to prove is that the two teams who traded him in a span of five months made a mistake.
The Cowboys originally traded Switzer to the Oakland Raiders at the end of April in exchange for defensive lineman Jihad Ward, a former second-round pick (Ward did not make the Cowboys’ roster). Oakland was interested in him as a return specialist, but they also signed Dwayne Harris.
After they opted to go with Harris, they put Switzer on the trading block in the summer, unbeknownst to him, until he ended up being dealt to the Pittsburgh Steelers, along with a sixth-round pick, in exchange for a selection in the fifth round.
“The last two weeks of training camp the coaches stopped talking to me”, Switzer recalled for the team’s website. “They weren’t giving me any reps in the preseason. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I came to find out I was on the trading block for a while”.
Fortunately for him, the Steelers were in the market for a return man, and he instantly took over all return duties. But they also immediately began to incorporate him into the offense, slowly but surely, in spite of the fact that he was basically learning on the fly.
“When I got here I didn’t expect too much”, he admitted, meaning when he first arrived in Pittsburgh. “My mind hadn’t settled down. I was processing everything that was going on. That was the state I was in. I was in a really bad place mentally”. He talked about the cost of moving, the confusion over why things weren’t working out, and other things that were weighing heavily on him during that transitional period.
“It was no question the lowest I have ever been in my football career”, he added. “The lowest without a doubt. Just to go from the lowest I have ever felt to potentially the highest, being integrated into this team, such a strong group of guys. It went from the lowest to the highest”.
Switzer would finish the season with 36 receptions for 253 yards and a touchdown in addition to 21 yards on six carries. He was most frequently used as an extension of the run game early on, but his role expanded as the season progressed.
This season, he figures to be fighting for reps as a rotational slot option or in four- or five-receiver sets, playing behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Donte Moncrief, however. And that’s assuming that they don’t draft anybody.
The fact that he is the return man will surely keep him around; however, the fact remains that he might have a difficult time seeing the field once again, even now that he is initiated into the Steelers’ offense and how they run things.