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 answered, starting with 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? How will they tackle the NFL Draft? 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: How big of an impact will Allen Robinson have in 2023?
Seemingly out of nowhere, the Steelers and general manager Omar Khan have pulled off one last(?) move before the draft, helping to shore up the depth at the wide receiver position by bringing in veteran Allen Robinson.
Soon to be 30, the one-time Pro Bowler comes to Pittsburgh coming off a couple of down years in which injuries have been a factor, as well as the quality of play at the quarterback position. The Los Angeles Rams were looking to dump some salary for him, yet still agreed to pay most of his salary for 2023, the Steelers agreeing to take on $5 million. All they gave up otherwise was a swap of seventh-round picks.
But what will he do on the field for the Steelers? Will he be worth $5 million?
More pragmatically, and more simply, how good is he going to be? What kind of impact will he have? We can safely presume that he will be one of their top three receivers with Diontae Johnson, and George Pickens. Provided that he is healthy.
While his role has varied over time, which is in itself a good thing, Robinson does have a lot of experience playing in the slot—which is also good, because that’s primarily what the Steelers need, a reliable, veteran slot receiver.
Robinson comes in now with probably the best hands on the team. He hasn’t been much of a big-play guy in the back half of his career, but he’s found ways to be productive, including while playing with Mitch Trubisky, which can’t be a bad thing.
A separate question, which we’ll get to more in depth another day, is what this does for the outlook of the wide receiver position in terms of near-term acquisition. Trading for Robinson makes it less likely, I would imagine, the Steelers draft a wide receiver any time earlier than toward the end of the draft, if at all. But what if the right prospect is there at the right time? Robinson isn’t going to be here in 2024, at least under his current contract.