With the 2022 new league year, the questions will be plenty for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend cash and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know who the quarterback is going to be yet—even if we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including to the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table—and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like absent Ben Roethlisberger?
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: Miles Boykin is virtually guaranteed to make the Steelers’ 53-man roster later this summer at the wide receiver position.
Explanation: The Steelers elected to claim former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Miles Boykin off waivers this past week when he was released. Pittsburgh lost three players at the position this offseason via free agency, and only added one, who is a return specialist. They only have two wide receivers on the team at the moment who were on the 2021 opening-day roster.
Just look at their other options and there’s your answer. Behind Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool, the Steelers have virtually nothing at wide receiver. Miles Boykin is a player that they seemingly liked a lot in the 2019 NFL Draft (though not as much as Johnson, who was drafted later in the same round), and they have a history of sticking with players they pick up whom they graded well in the pre-draft process, especially the closer they are to that process.
Boykin saw the Ravens draft six wide receivers in the past three years, including two first-round picks, and they also made a number of additions in free agency along the way. His hamstring injury last year completely put him out of the picture, but there is a clear opportunity to rebuild himself in Pittsburgh, and he is a willing contributor in all phases, including special teams.
Because of the Proven Performance Escalator, the Steelers are due to pay Boykin $2.54 million in 2022, which is probably the biggest reason the Ravens released him. It could be the same reason, or a significant factor, in him not sticking in Pittsburgh, as well.
They do have a couple of other veteran wide receivers of not dissimilar stature in Anthony Miller and Steven Sims, and a high draft pick is a guarantee. If you assume Johnson, Claypool, Gunner Olszewski, and a draft pick, Boykin is not guaranteed to make the team, with Miller and Sims and perhaps others in the mix for a potential fifth and final roster spot.
The reason that Steelers claimed Boykin off waivers was because it was a no-risk move. He was cut by a team without a great passing game. If he doesn’t make the team, they don’t have to pay him. But they’re willing to let him work through the process of earning a roster spot. He won’t be handed anything.