The Pittsburgh Steelers well underway with the offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the heart of the offseason, where hope springs eternal following a few months of pretty significant changes, in terms of both departures and arrivals.
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: Do the Steelers have too many roster-worthy wide receivers to keep fewer than six?
Before I get into this, I want to address the idea of jinxes. Writing about an abundance at a position isn’t going to make it more likely for injuries to occur. With that said, injuries do often enough have a funny way of solving the ‘too many players’ problem. Not always (the team has traded excess talent in the recent past), but it’s always a possibility.
This year, the Steelers have what seems to be a good amount of talent at wide receiver, which is pretty remarkable considering that they lost three players from last season, trading Antonio Brown and choosing not to re-sign Darrius Heyward-Bey or Justin Hunter.
They already had seven last year, though, because after Hunter was placed on injured reserve, Eli Rogers came back from the Physically Unable to Perform List. including the return of JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Ryan Switzer, that’s four coming back from 2018.
Add to that the free agent addition of Donte Moncrief and the early third-round selection of Diontae Johnson, and that’s six players already that have a good chance of making the team. That’s not even including others like Johnny Holton, who has been with the Oakland Raiders for the past three years, and Diontae Spencer, a CFL performer who is coming off a good spring.
But any number beyond five at wide receiver has to come with a sacrifice at another position, and this year, that will be harder to do. One can easily make the case that they can carry nine offensive linemen, five outside linebackers, five inside linebackers, and/or six cornerbacks. Five safeties is also a possibility, as is four running backs, or four tight ends.
You certainly can’t have all of these together, so players like Jerald Hawkins, Sutton Smith, Ulysees Gilbert III, Brian Allen, Trey Edmunds, and Artie Burns are going to be interested in monitoring the numbers game at wide receiver.