At this time a year ago, Ryan Switzer was reporting to the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility, where the team was preparing to trade him to the Oakland Raiders. And it wouldn’t be until late August that the Raiders in turn would finally send him out east to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So this is his third team in his third offseason, but the first time that it starts fresh with a new organization. And the young wide receiver is looking to take advantage of every opportunity that the Collective Bargaining Agreement will allow him as he pursues his goal of making Pittsburgh his long-term football home.
While this time of the year doesn’t actually matter in terms of football, because players only have very limited access to the coaching staff right now, and the coaches are not even allowed to coach, there are other team goals that take place now, and Switzer values them as he begins to get to know his teammates better after joining them on the fly eight months ago.
“I think it’s big”, he said of his presence in the early portions of the offseason and the opportunity to see and meet with so many of the veterans on the roster who also reported at the beginning of voluntary attendance. “I am learning more about them, they are learning more about who I am. I am excited to spend two straight years with an organization, with the same guys. This is great”.
Switzer spent almost exactly a calendar year with the Cowboys. He was a fourth-round pick in 2017, with the third day of that draft being held on April 29 of that year. He was traded on April 28, 2018 to the Raiders.
That’s still longer than he has been with the Steelers so far, but he has been given greater opportunities to accomplish things in his short amount of time in Pittsburgh. By statistics, Switzer was essentially their number three wide receiver with the third-most receptions and receiving yards at the position, behind of course Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
One of the biggest things that surprised him early in his time in Pittsburgh was the fact that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was so quick to get to know him and to reach out and offer help. Switzer has gone to bat for the quarterback more than once this offseason, but he is trying to build relationships with the rest of the roster as well.
“It’s special, it’s important”, he said of the offseason process at this time of year and the high volume of voluntary participation that the team is seeing. “It’s the willingness of guys and the dedication to be something greater than ourselves and try to put something together as a team”.
While he has become a bit of a fan favorite and is easy to root for, Switzer is coming into this season knowing full well that he has to earn his roster spot all over again. He is already likely fourth or fifth on the depth chart heading into the draft, and they have looked at a couple of returners during pre-draft visits as well.