2023 Stock Watch – WR Calvin Austin III – 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 Calvin Austin III

Stock Value: Up

Reasoning: While he continues to work his way back to 100 percent from a foot injury he suffered a year ago, second-year wide receiver Calvin Austin III still seems in good position entering 2023. The Steelers have yet to address that area of the roster this offseason, and have last Steven Sims while leaving Miles Boykin unsigned, so the door is still wide open for Austin to step in as the third receiver.

Former Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert always talked about injured rookies coming back as though they were an additional draft pick. That’s what he would be saying right now about 2022 fourth-round selection Calvin Austin III, the slight wide receiver out of Memphis.

Austin suffered a foot injury on the day before the Steelers’ first preseason game last year and began the regular season on the Reserve/Injured List. While the team had him return to the practice field a couple months later following the bye, ultimately he was never activated, having aggravated the injury after resuming activity.

Soon after he had surgery to repair the issue once and for all and is expected to be at 100 percent capacity for his second season. For now, it looks as though the door is wide open for him to slot in right between Diontae Johnson and George Pickens as the primary slot receiver.

The Steelers have yet to add a receiver of note to the roster. While they did re-sign veteran Anthony Miller, who spent last season on the Reserve/Injured List but had already become a practice squad player previously, they also decided not to retain Steven Sims, allowing him to sign elsewhere. They also have yet to move on Miles Boykin, who had become primarily a special teams player.

With this being said, it is very likely the team will address the wide receiver position in the coming weeks. General manager Omar Khan even talked about the slot position and how they will look to fill that spot with a player who fits their view of the role.

It’s worth noting that they have favored big-bodied slot receivers in recent years by and large, including Jerricho Cotchery some years ago, but more recently JuJu Smith-Schuster and last season Chase Claypool. Austin is slightly smaller than Claypool by roughly seven inches and 76 pounds, so it would be a different wrinkle for sure.

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