Buy Or Sell: Robinson Move A Signal Steelers Not Impressed With WR Class

With the Steelers’ 2023 offseason underway following a disappointing season that came up just short of reaching the playoffs, it’s time to begin reloading, through the free agency process, through the draft, and perhaps even through trade.

This is now a young team on the offensive side of the ball, though one getting older on defense, and both sides could stand to be supplemented robustly, including in the trenches—either one. Changes have been made to the coaching staff, even if not all of the desired ones, as the roster continues to renew with the weeks ticking by.

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: The Steelers’ decision to trade for a veteran wide receiver says what they think about the current class in 2023.

Explanation: Though the Steelers addressing the wide receiver position before the draft was not a shock, the means of doing so was surprising. Most likely figured they would target a cheap veteran. Instead, they pulled off a trade for Allen Robinson II, and even with the Los Angeles Rams’ payment plan, they’re still paying him $5 million this year. Meanwhile, many seem to concur that this draft class is not overly strong, with some suggesting there is only one wide receiver who merits a first-round grade.


This regime was in place last year when they made the trade to move Chase Claypool. It’s the same scouting department that was studying the upcoming 2023 wide receiver class. And this is the same group that decided to go after Allen Robinson II. Connect the dots.

There are few things head coach Mike Tomlin likes to do more than drafting wide receivers on day two of the draft. But now they have their starting three with Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Robinson. With other key needs elsewhere, they have intentionally taken wide receiver off the board as a primary need, making it unlikely they would consider drafting one before the late rounds.


The only thing the Robinson move means is that they knew they could use a veteran in the room and they knew the Rams were desperate to unload his contract. They took advantage of the situation to acquire an established veteran with high upside for a strong comeback if healthy who could be a big asset for their young quarterback.

By no means does the acquisition of Robinson take the wide receiver position off the Steelers’ board in any way it would have been before the move. It was always extremely unlikely they would take one in the first round, but do you really think Tomlin wouldn’t take one in the second or third round right now if he was their highest-rated player?

Let’s not forget, Robinson is likely a one-year rental, due $10 million in 2024. Johnson is only under contract through 2024 as well. And we don’t even know what Calvin Austin III looks like in a stadium yet. As for Pickens, well, we’ve been quick to jump the gun in anointing future superstar wide receivers before.

Restocking the wide receiver position is never a bad idea. And even if they don’t take one this year, that doesn’t mean they devalued this class. It just means the value relative positions at the time of their selections didn’t align with their needs and draft board.

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