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Dolphins WR Cedrick Wilson Jr. Makes Sense as Steelers Trade Target



Steelers Trade Target Miami Dolphins WR Cedrick Wilson Jr.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Cedrick Wilson Jr. carries the ball during an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Miami Dolphins signed free agent wide receiver Chosen (nee Robbie) Anderson on Sunday, giving the team a logjam at the position that could result in a familiar name to Pittsburgh Steelers fans ending up on the trade block.

Miami is bringing back top 2022 receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and also signed Braxton Berrios as a free agent, along with Anderson. Those four figure to have locked down roles, which leaves one or two spots for the Fins’ other returning options: Cedrick Wilson Jr., River Cracraft, Erik Ezukanma and Braylon Sanders.

Wilson, the son of former Steelers wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, was the most productive of that group in 2022, but only barely. In 15 games, he caught 12 passes for 136 yards. Cracraft caught nine for 102. Ezukanma, a 2022 fourth-round pick, played in just one game.

But Ezukanma ($1.05 million) and Cracraft ($940,000) are cheap options against the Miami salary cap, while Wilson is playing on a massive free agent contract from when the Dolphins poached him from the Dallas Cowboys last year.

Wilson will count $8 million against the Dolphins’ cap in 2023 and $8.3 million in 2024. By trading or releasing him, Miami would incur only a $2 million dead cap hit.

Thought his first season in Miami was underwhelming, Wilson has been a productive player in the past. A sixth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, he worked his way up to a regular in the Dallas offense, setting career highs in 2021 with 45 catches for 602 yards and six touchdowns.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Wilson split his snaps in Miami pretty evenly between the slot and outside. But in Dallas earlier in his career, he was primarily a slot receiver, and there, he profiles to be just the kind of player the Steelers covet.
Pittsburgh has been lacking a big body in the slot since trading Chase Claypool midway through the 2022 season, with smaller options like Calvin Austin III, Gunner Olszewski and Anthony Miller currently inhabiting that space.

The Steelers have been looking for such a player in the 2023 NFL Draft, hosting Mississippi’s Jonathan Mingo and Tennessee’s Cedric Tillman, among others. But if they are unable to land one of them in the upcoming draft, Wilson could be an attractive addition via trade.

In addition to his size, the younger Wilson should be an attractive option for the Steelers, well-known for their love of NFL bloodlines.

The elder Cedrick Wilson spent his final three NFL seasons with the Steelers from 2005-07, winning Super Bowl XL in 2006. Wilson caught 81 passes for 1,162 yards and two scores with the Steelers in the regular season. He also caught scores in the Wild Card round against Cincinnati and in the AFC Championship Game in Denver during the Steelers’ run to the Super Bowl.

It’s not clear what the Dolphins would demand in exchange for Wilson, but with the primary benefit to them being the salary cap savings, and his down 2022 season, it should not be a high price. The Dolphins have just four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft and five picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.