The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving into a new era on offense this season as a result of the departure of wide receiver Antonio Brown, who forced the team to deal him for perhaps a number of reasons, but which ultimately and unsurprisingly resulted in him receiving a handsome raise.
While the wide receiver room retains the services of Pro Bowler JuJu Smith-Schuster, the rest of the faces are relatively new, short of Eli Rogers, who is entering his fifth season in the NFL—including two either missed or shortened due to injury.
Among the new faces is Donte Moncrief, who is the most veteran player on the roster, moving into his sixth season after spending four years with the Indianapolis Colts and last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He should help with Smith-Schuster in leading the room both on and off the field. But he spoke to the team’s website about how the group polices itself, in a way.
“As Coach Drake said, you’re always going to be as strong as your weakest guy. In our room we try to pick everybody up, make sure everybody’s on the same page and make sure everybody’s ready to go to play every position”.
Of course that’s not entirely true. Having a star wide receiver can really elevate the entire group, no matter how bad your number four, five, or six wide receiver is, depending on how deep your depth chart goes. But it’s easy to appreciate the sentiment.
Especially this offseason, where they know that they will have to produce by committee with Brown gone. That’s going to include a combination of Moncrief, second-year James Washington, rookie Diontae Johnson, and whoever else makes the team, such as Rogers and Ryan Switzer.
Moncrief has been taking on something of a leadership role with the wide receivers, though not necessarily with or over Smith-Schuster, who despite being in just his third season and the youngest player has been the most accomplished of the group, and arguably the most mature as well.
He feels if the wide receivers can work to pick each other up, then the “room will be electric”, Moncrief said. It’s a matter of being able to “take it from meetings onto the field”, he added. “If you can do that, you’ll produce”.
As far as production goes, that is Moncrief’s goal, even as many seem to paint him into the background as some sort of insurance policy if Washington and/or Johnson are not who the team expects them to be. He signed a two-year, $9 million contract for the Steelers because he wants to catch passes from Ben Roethlisberger and score points, not to be a coach’s assistant.
That doesn’t mean he’s not going to try to help everybody along to make sure everyone to a man in his group is the best player that he can be. Because he knows that everybody’s individual success is also the team’s success. That’s the message they’re promoting in the new-look wide receiver room, where they expect business to continue to boom.