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. 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: Allen Robinson II will be on the Steelers’ roster in 2024.
Explanation: Acquired via trade about a month ago, veteran wide receiver Allen Robinson II is expected to be the team’s primary slot receiver in 2023. He is owed only $5 million by the Steelers in 2023. His base salary in 2024 is $10 million, but as part of the trade, he agreed to drop a seven-figure signing bonus he was due that year, making it easier for Pittsburgh to keep him.
Robinson is a Pro Bowl-level talent even though he’s only been to the actual Pro Bowl once in his career. While he may not be at the peak of his athletic abilities at 30 years old, he is still more than capable of producing at the wide receiver position.
He should prove to be a desirable target between the hashes for young quarterback Kenny Pickett, who will find him open and reliable and will help him get out of jams he will inevitably find himself in. And his value goes beyond that. He should rather quickly establish himself as something of a veteran for this young offense, of which he is now the oldest starter (only Le’Raven Clark among all offensive players is slightly older).
Let’s begin with the fact that the Steelers’ primary personnel grouping in 2023 may no longer be 11, as in three wide receivers on the field. After re-signing Zach Gentry and then drafting Darnell Washington, it’s very possible the Steelers spend as much time with two tight ends on the field as not.
Not only is this a team that wants to run the ball more, it has also clearly identified the 12 personnel group as desirable for its talent because the Steelers have tight ends who can block and catch. The third receiver isn’t going to get 700-plus snaps in this offense, and that won’t be a detriment to the passing game.
Beyond that, $10 million is still a lot to pay for a 30-something slot receiver. Chances are the Steelers will draft somebody else in 2024. Calvin Austin III may prove in 2023 to be someone they want to get on the field more. And the Steelers have a history of acquiring players on multi-year deals of which they only see the first. There’s no reason to see Robinson as the exception. He was acquired this year, cheaply, for the 2023 season.