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 Rico Bussey
Stock Value: Sold
Reasoning: The first-year wide receiver was waived earlier this week to make room on the 90-man roster for four signings who participated in rookie minicamp as tryouts, including wide receiver Tyler Snead.
Rico Bussey signed with the Steelers as a college free agent a year ago, and managed to attract a bit of attention to himself over the course of his summer for his performance. It was enough that the team decided to keep him on the practice squad when season began.
They also stuck with him while he was hurt, spending a good portion of the regular season on the Practice Squad/Injured List, rather than reaching an injury settlement with him and finding somebody else.
That was perhaps in part because they had depth on the practice squad at wide receiver, with Anthony Miller, Steven Sims, and Tyler Vaughns also on the unit. All three of them, in fact, remain under contract; many assumed that Vaughns would be released before Bussey.
Evidently not, of course, as the USC alumnus is still on the team with his 6’2” frame, one among 11 wide receivers, with the 5’7” Snead out of East Carolina being the newest as a signing coming out of rookie minicamp as a tryout.
So the story of Rico Bussey came and went, at least for now, but I suppose it’s not likely that his chapter will be revisited. There are plenty of wide receivers out there that teams can sign off the street if they need to due to injury or what have you, but they’ve already decided that they have 11 better options already on the roster.
With Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool returning from last season, the Steelers supplemented the wide receiver group with second- and fourth-round draft picks, George Pickens and Calvin Austin III, respectively. They join Cody White, Miller and Sims, and Miles Boykin as players with NFL experience who are on the roster but outside the bubble, along with free agent signing Gunner Olszewksi and the aforementioned Vaughns, to which group was now added Snead, at Bussey’s expense.