2023 Stock Watch – WR Steven Sims – Stock Up

Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason and everything that means. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.

Player: WR Steven Sims

Stock Value: Up

Reasoning: Primarily based on the fact that his opportunities increased throughout the season and he was on the practice squad the year before, Sims’ stock obviously rose. But opportunities for further growth will likely be slim.

Steven Sims was a fairly significant contributor in Washington during his first two seasons in the NFL as a former college free agent. He was active as a slot receiver and as a return man in 2019 and 2020. After spending most of the 2021 season on the practice squad, he resurfaced, gradually, into those roles last year.

And that was after barely making the roster. It’s highly likely that the only reason he actually made the team was because rookie fourth-round pick Calvin Austin III suffered a foot injury in training camp. He otherwise probably would have been on the practice squad again.

That doesn’t mean opportunity wouldn’t have arisen again. That’s thanks to Gunner Olszewski’s struggles with ball security as the team’s primary return man. It was only a few games into the season by the time they pulled the plug on that and gave Sims the chance, even though he had his own muff’n’fumble adventures.

His stock rose even further after the bye week when the Steelers traded wide receiver Chase Claypool, opening up the slot position. Austin also attempted to return from the Reserve/Injured List, but evidently re-injured his foot and eventually had surgery.

That allowed Sims a lot more playing time, seeing the bulk of his 284 offensive snaps on the season in the final nine weeks. He finished the season with 14 receptions for 104 yards and 70 rushing yards on 13 carries.

He was most successful on kick returns, averaging 25.5 yards per return with a long of 89 yards. Punt returns were another story. He averaged just 5.5 yards on those, but that was in part due to his issues with ball security hurting his averages.

With Austin expected back next season and the Steelers bound to add at least one notable receiver through free agency or the draft, plus with Anthony Miller back in the mix, Sims may have trouble making the roster in 2023.

But first, they will have to re-sign him. He’s due to be a restricted free agent, but they may not be willing to pay over $2.6 million to tender him. If not, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with anybody. If they can’t him back cheaply, they’ll likely be willing to move on to Plan B.

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