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Steelers Analysis

New Potential Steelers WR Trade Targets Emerge



Pittsburgh Steelers WR Trade Target Houston Texans John Metchie III
Houston Texans wide receiver John Metchie III (8) in action during the first quarter of an NFL football game against Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023 in Houston, TX. (AP Photo/Maria Lysaker)

The Houston Texans made a huge splash by trading for Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs on Wednesday, and it might end up helping the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Texans got a solid deal for the former Bills and Vikings star, giving up just a future second-round draft pick, and getting two day-three picks in return along with Diggs.

But now they must deal with his cap hit, which will cost the Texans $19 million in 2024. The Texans are already paying Robert Woods $9.7 million this season, and with the addition of Diggs, he seems likely to be pushed out of a starting role.

Last season, Woods played alongside Nico Collins and 2023 rookie Tank Dell as Houston’s top three receivers. With the addition of Diggs, one of them will be pushed out, and it could be Woods because of his cap hit and relative lack of production last season. In 2023, Woods was fourth on the Texans in receiving yards with 426, well behind Collins (1,297), Dell (709) and Noah Brown (567), who stepped into a starting role after Dell broke his leg mid-season.

Woods is entering the final season of a two-year contract. His salary cap hit would be reduced to $6.25 if he’s traded, with the Texans saving that amount and absorbing a $3.25 million dead cap hit. Houston isn’t necessarily in dire salary cap straits, but that’s a large hit for a No. 4 wide receiver.

Brown just re-signed with the Texans on a one-year deal for 2024 worth $3.59 million.

The Texans could also be interested in moving away from former second-round pick John Metchie III, who has now been pushed to sixth on the depth chart by the Diggs acquisition. 

A 2022 second-round pick, Metchie missed his entire rookie season after tearing his ACL in the SEC Championship Game at the end of his college career in 2021 and then receiving a leukemia diagnosis the following May. Last summer, he was cleared to return to football after beating cancer, but was used only sparingly by the Texans. He caught 16 of 30 targets for 158 yards, and also played on Houston’s punt and kick return special teams units.

The Steelers have multiple needs at wide receiver after trading away Diontae Johnson and releasing Allen Robinson II since the end of the 2023 season. They have signed Van Jefferson and Quez Watkins to one-year deals, but have remained in the market.

The Steelers checked in on San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, and have also showed interest in a number of top wide receivers in the 2024 NFL Draft class.