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Buy Or Sell: Gunner Olszewski Will Be An Offensive Contributor

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: Gunner Olszewski will be an offensive contributor.

Explanation: Assuming that he makes the 53-man roster, we can more or less guarantee that Gunner Olszewski is going to be dressing every week, because it will mean that he is their return man. That also likely means that a theoretical sixth wide receiver like Anthony Miller or Miles Boykin (or potentially rookie Calvin Austin III) won’t be dressing, allowing for the possibility that he could be the number two slot receiver, not dissimilar to Ryan Switzer or Ray-Ray McCloud in the past. We can probably conservatively define a ‘contributor’ as, say, 25-30 touches on the season.

Buy:

Value may vary, but Gunner Olszewski certainly seems to be confident that he will be a wide receiver in the Steelers’ offensive and not just somebody who returns kicks on special teams. He also refuses to make excuses for his previous lack of production just because he doesn’t have an extensive history at the position, which I also like.

The thing is, he also apparently looked good during the spring. And he was playing with the first-team offense, to boot, even though like most of the wide receivers on the team who have a shot at making the roster, he is also new to the offense. And the fact of the matter is that they just don’t have anybody proven in the slot. But Olszewski has that open-field shiftiness that they like.

Sell:

Olszewski might not even make the team if either Austin or Anthony McFarland, or a combination of the two, can grab hold of the return jobs. And their cases could be helped if veteran receivers like Anthony Miller and Miles Boykin ball out this summer and put the pressure on the coaching staff to keep them instead of a more limited player like Olszewski just for special teams.

As far as him working with the first-team offense goes, that has to do more with veteran pecking order and status than anything. Rest assured, before long, the rookies, particularly George Pickens, are going to get the higher-quality reps.

And Chase Claypool seems ticketed for a larger role in the slot this year, which will limit Olszewski’s opportunities even if there weren’t other candidates. Austin is one. Miller is another. If they can dress five wide receivers they’re all comfortable with on offense while still having a return man, they may just take that route and move on from Olszewski altogether. But even if they don’t, that doesn’t mean he’ll be catching passes or running a large number of gadget plays when they have more athletic players like Austin who can do the same thing.

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