The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead, they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.
On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.
Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answering, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.
Question: Will Calvin Austin III be the Steelers’ third receiver at the start of the 2023 season?
Remember when we thought the Steelers were suddenly rich of depth at the wide receiver position coming out of the 2022 NFL Draft? We were concerned going in following the losses in free agency—all they added was Gunner Olszewski—but George Pickens and Calvin Austin III would change that, surely.
Well, Austin never played and then they traded Chase Claypool. So now they have Pickens and Diontae Johnson and a short speedster coming off of foot surgery who’s never played in a preseason game, plus some veterans who have been insubstantial enough to spend time on practice squads.
So where does that leave us? At least in theory, Austin’s foot should be fully healed come training camp. From a physical standpoint, there should be no impediments for him in fighting for the number three role. But he has yet to prove anything, even before the injury.
At the moment, his competition is Steven Sims (who is a restricted free agent), Anthony Miller, and Olszewski, along with some stray candidates who are less likely to make the final running like Cody White and recent futures signings.
That can obviously change. They can add a veteran in free agency, or even trade for one, and the odds of them going through a draft without taking a wide receiver are low, since they almost always do. We don’t know how that will play out yet, though.
Sitting here today, knowing what we know, and not knowing what we don’t, what do you think? Will Austin be the number three receiver on opening day alongside Johnson and Pickens? Will it be Miller? Maybe somebody who isn’t currently on the roster?