Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: WR Ryan Switzer
Stock Value: Down
Last week, Ryan Switzer saw his snaps on offense decline amidst another uninspiring showing in which he displayed an inability to ever get past the first defender, highlighted by a zero-yard catch on a screen pass. He was taken off punt returns after muffing one, replaced by rookie Diontae Johnson.
On Sunday, he didn’t play on offense at all, but while he did return to his role of fielding punts for the special teams unit, the Steelers experimented with putting Johnny Holton on kick returns late in the game. Holton had worked kick returns during the preseason.
So over the course of the season, we have already seen Switzer’s snap count on offense plummet to zero for an entire game, and the special teams units have already taken a glance at their alternative return options for both the punting and kicking unit.
So…what’s he doing? One has to seriously wonder if he is going to last through the season at this point if the indications that the team is beginning to see him as expendable are indeed the reality. If they don’t need him offensively and are seeking alternatives in the return game—and as a third-year player his contract doesn’t become guaranteed at the start of the season as it would for a vested veteran—then, well…
At the very least, if the Steelers continue to experiment with other players working in the return game, it wouldn’t be surprising if we start to see Switzer moved to the inactive list. But that would also require that Donte Moncrief is able to come back and establish himself as an offensive contributor, as he has been anything but that through two games.
There are a lot of ifs involved—the continued rise of the young wideouts, James Washington and Johnson, being included in that—but Switzer’s YAC-lacking bubble-screen receptions are starting to look like a thing of the past, and may result in him eventually being waived if a roster spot becomes needed down the line. He’s not at immediate risk—he’s still the returner, at the very least, until further notice—but things can change.