Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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 Johnny Holton
Stock Value: Sold
Arguably the most surprising move the Steelers have made so far this year was the early decision to waive veteran wide receiver Johnny Holton, who spent the 2019 season with the team after coming over from the Oakland Raiders.
While the team jettisoned a few larger contracts in the early goings, releasing Mark Barron and Anthony Chickillo and watching Ramon Foster retire, Holton was also released. To call it a cost-cutting move or to describe Holton as a cap casualty, however, would be in error, since they only saved a couple hundred thousand by doing so, which is not even a dent in relative terms.
This isn’t the first time the Steelers have ever let a similar player go this early, however. Typically, when they do, they do so with the idea in mind of giving that player the best chance of catching on with another team and to do so as early as possible.
Obviously, as should go without saying, it hasn’t exactly worked out for Holton, who remains unsigned a week and a half after his release. But that’s going to happen sometimes. And it’s not as though he put together a highlight reel for the Steelers last season.
To be fair, Holton did what he was supposed to on special teams. He was a regular contributor in many phases and was their best gunner. By and large, he stepped in and filled the shoes of Darrius Heyward-Bey, who played for the team last in 2018.
Offensively, while he didn’t get a lot of quality targets, which were typically down the field, teams are going to see that he had three catches on 15 targets for a whopping 21 yards. He averaged over 21 yards on nine receptions in 2017.
Yet he also saw a career-high with 266 offensive snaps for Pittsburgh. That was due to their wide receiver situation. And the reason he got so few quality targets was because of the injury situation at quarterback. While he was going to have a hard time making the team again in 2020, it was still a move many anticipated would be decided in the preseason, and not in March.