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Free George Pickens? Ex-Steelers Think Team is Holding Him Back



George Pickens

George Pickens has been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ best wide receiver this year, but he’s averaging only 4.9 targets per game. Eight targets are his highest figure in a game. In the last two games, he’s received a combined five targets — one reception on two targets for two yards against the Atlanta Falcons and three receptions on three targets for 78 yards (26.0 average) against the Baltimore Ravens. Pickens has run 412 routes on the season, but his target rate of 15.8 percent is 97th in the NFL, according to PlayerProfiler.

Antonio Brown even unprompted chimed in on the lack of targets for Pickens. “Feed George Pickens the Ball 🏈. Hungry Why Wait?” Brown tweeted. So, why are the Steelers not feeding the Georgia product the ball? Former Steelers outside linebacker Arthur Moats believes the organization doesn’t want another malcontent at receiver, so that’s why they’re not giving in to his requests.

“I do feel like because of the history they’ve had with certain celebrity receivers they want to take their time developing him. I think that’s legitimate,” Moats said on 93.7 The Fan.

AB is probably the biggest diva that the National Football League has ever seen, but Mike Tomlin was able to manage him until the wheels came off in 2018. I don’t sense Pickens even being in the same stratosphere as Brown when it comes to being insubordinate. All Pickens did was yell, “Throw me the f***ing ball” against Atlanta. While not ideal, it’s not uncommon for receivers to say that at pretty much any level of football when frustrated.

George Pickens is a competitor and wants to win. Tomlin welcomes that competitive spirit. The Steelers offense is more efficient and productive when Pickens is involved, too. Pickens’ 15 contested catches in 2022 rank tied for third, behind only the likes of Justin Jefferson (20) and DK Metcalf (17), according to Pro Football Focus. Eight of Pickens’ contested catches have gone for 20+ yards, as well.

Pickens also went to work on one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL in Marlon Humphrey last Sunday. Pickens’ had two explosive contested catches and drew a defensive pass interference penalty against the All-Pro. Humphrey admitted after the game that Pickens burned him all day.

“He was burning me all day. I knew he was gonna be a good player, and I knew Pittsburgh would probably draft him,” Humphrey said. “He’s a Pittsburgh guy. He just has a lot of dog, a lot of grit in him.”

Pickens is way too talented to receive less than five targets a game. Just throw up some 50/50 balls, Pickens has proved that he’s a contested catch machine. Matt Canada needs to figure this out, you can’t have Pickens as a bystander. Mix it up more, be more creative. Diontae Johnson shouldn’t have 113 targets compared to Pickens’ 64.

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