Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: WR Rico Bussey
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: Rico Bussey was one of eight players that the team signed as college free agents following the 2021 NFL Draft, coming at a position at wide receiver that they did not address with any of their nine draft selections.
The Steelers only carried five wide receivers on their 53-man roster a year ago, and all five of them are returning for the 2021 season. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an opening. It has been far more common for the team to carry six wide receivers, and anybody who shows the ability to contribute on offense could render Ray-Ray McCloud more to a return-specialist-exclusive role.
Of the available options, perhaps Rico Busy, signed as a college free agent out of Hawaii, stands as good a chance as anybody, I suppose, other candidates being Anthony Johnson, Cody White, Tyler Simmons, Mathew Sexton, and Isaiah McKoy. The former two spent time on the practice squad last season.
We had a draftable grade on Bussey, albeit as a borderline seventh-round pick, but the does bring some intriguing attributes to the table, particularly in his route-running abilities and his basic level of competitiveness, which you don’t always get from the position, even if he can stand to be more consistent in that regard when he’s not immediately in the play.
One thing to note is his ACL injury that he suffered in 2019, which as a result means we haven’t seen his best in the past couple of years, so maybe he shows more in camp than he has on tape in the time that he did get on the field during the 2020 season.
Bussey only played one year in Hawaii, in 2020, having transferred from North Texas. He played seven games last year, with just 31 catches for 274 yards and one touchdown. But if you go back to his 2018 season, he caught 68 passes for 1017 yards and 12 touchdowns over 12 games. If that’s the Bussey they’re getting, then he can be a dark horse candidate to make the roster.