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Wide Receiver with Arthur Smith Ties Set to Return to NFL

Corey Davis, who played for Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith in Tennessee, is set to un-retire.



Pittsburgh Steelers Corey Davis
New York Jets wide receiver Corey Davis (84) plays against the Carolina Panthers during an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

New York Jets wide receiver Corey Davis has applied for reinstatement to the NFL after being put on the reserve/retired list by the Jets in training camp. It now appears that he will return, and that the Jets will cut him, which begs the question on if the Pittsburgh Steelers will pursue Davis in free agency.

Davis played for Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith in Tennessee and was productive under Smith. It would bring in a guy who fits all the checked boxes for a Smith wide receiver. For one, Davis is a highly willing blocker who can play outside and in the slot. Given how Pittsburgh will play with condensed sets into the line of scrimmage where the slot receiver will not exist because they will play out of multiple tight-end personnel so often, that is valuable.

Smith’s a tough receiver who can make solid catches in those contested areas. So, when modern offenses are moving more and more toward attacking teams inside-out and playing with those condensed sets, a guy like Davis can be useful depth.

And why is that the case for the Steelers? One of the things that makes Smith’s offense fit in with the Sean McVay tree, or at least parts of it, is that he has some of the shortest splits in the league. Wide receivers will sometimes be on the hip on tackles or tight ends. That’s the reality of it, but it’s an interesting philosophy when done right. Smith attacks defenses from the inside-out rather than outside-in like most spread formations will do. That does not mean that both philosophies can not work, but McVay and Kyle Shanahan are on this wave now. They run bunch sets, stacked looks, and work out of these condensed splits. No team ran more plays out of condensed sets than the 49ers, but the Rams and Falcons are right behind them.

He has experience in Smith’s system, has been someone who can win over the top of defenses, and for his best trait, he is a fantastic blocker. Davis checks some boxes, and the market figures to not be too hot for him, which makes Pittsburgh a logical landing spot.