Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth 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 have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into 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 reasoning. 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. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: WR Anthony Miller
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: As with Steven Sims and Cody White—and every other wide receiver further down the depth chart—Anthony Miller’s path to a spot on the 53-man roster was made more difficult when the Steelers made the decision to claim former Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin off waivers.
Heading into tonight’s draft, the Steelers may well add a wide receiver by the time we go to bed. But even after losing three wide receivers from last year’s initial 53-man roster, they have managed to add some pieces beforehand, first signing Gunner Olszewski as a replacement for Ray-Ray McCloud, and then claiming Miles Boykin off waivers, who is essentially a swap for James Washington.
They still need a JuJu Smith-Schuster (in theory), but Anthony Miller was never going to be that, anyway, and if indeed the Steelers draft a receiver tonight—or tomorrow night, or on Saturday for that matter—it will be much harder for the veteran to make the team.
Boykin, it should be made clear, is not a lock to make the 53-man roster himself. The Steelers don’t owe him anything if he doesn’t make the team, and with him set to earn over $2 million due to the Proven Performance Escalator, they may be more demanding in judging his worth.
But the fact that they (surely) knew what his salary was and decided to add him anyway clearly indicates that they believe he is a talented player who can help them, and therefore can make the team. And they haven’t blushed in the past about throwing a couple million to a depth player.
As of now, the Steelers’ top five wide receivers in 2022 will likely be Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, TBA Draft Pick, Boykin, and Olszewski. Whether or not there is even a sixth wide receiver is unknown. Lately, they haven’t carried six.
But assuming they don’t draft two, a sixth spot would come down to Miller, Steven Sims, and Cody White, primarily, along with whatever field might present itself by then. The fewer chairs there are, the harder it is to be seated when the music stops.