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Robinson Replacements: Four Steelers Free Agent WR Fits

Who are some of the wide receivers the Pittsburgh Steelers could end up targeting with Allen Robinson II officially released?



Pittsburgh Steelers WR Tyler Boyd
Cincinnati Bengals WR Tyler Boyd against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dec. 23, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers officially released wide receiver Allen Robinson II on Friday. And now, that means that there will be options for the team to sign in free agency, but who should they target this offseason to fill the void left at WR3? Here are a few names that the team could look at:

Bengals WR Tyler Boyd

Boyd, in the past, has talked about the culture in Pittsburgh, and has even bit back against his hometown team several times. In Cincinnati, Boyd is the slot counterpart to Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase in the three-headed monster. He has played the last eight seasons with them. He has made 513 catches for 7,000 yards and 31 touchdowns during that time and has served as a mainstay during the franchise’s rebuild in the earlier part of his career through their more recent success.

A steady-handed receiver with crisp routes, Boyd is not a burner. But he is a hard-nosed player that is smooth. He will make catches in the tough areas of the field, and he is the type of veteran presence that the team could try to add to the room without Robinson. With Arthur Smith’s offense, it needs a slot receiver that can work over the middle of the field and compete as a blocker. Boyd certainly checks those boxes.

He might be a little more expensive than some others on this list, but he is a Pittsburgh native and would undoubtedly give the team three legitimate receivers that would have to be accounted for at all times. He’s different from some of the other options on this list, but his ability to stretch the field horizontally makes him a threat when paired with Diontae Johnson and George Pickens.

Cincinnati Bengals Pittsburgh Steelers Tyler Boyd

Cincinnati Bengals WR Tyler Boyd against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sept. 25, 2021 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Texans WR Noah Brown

Houston’s Noah Brown as a potential fit. A 6-foot-2, 215 pounds receiver, Brown broke out in Bobby Slowik’s system, becoming a dependable weapon for C.J. Stroud, Tank Dell, and Nico Collins. Brown became the possession man of that bunch, and his ability to get out and block on the perimeter became one of his best attributes. Joe Tansey of Bleacher Report believes that Brown could make sense.

It’s not hard to see why that would be the case. 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.

Brown fits into that mold well. For one, he comes from an offense with the Shanahan tree since he played under Slowik’s guidance. The Texans were up there as a team that did lots of condensed splits, and a guy like Brown was able to fit into that so well because he was a strong-handed possession receiver over the top while blocking his tail off, too. And he can make big plays, averaging over 17 yards per catch last season.

With Smith’s play-action game and wanting to attack in between the numbers, it makes perfect sense to do that. But to pull it off, you need some hosses that can block in the run game and dig out safeties. Brown can be that guy.

Pittsburgh Steelers Noah Brown

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Noah Brown (85) warms up before an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Falcons WR Mack Hollins

Hollins joined the Falcons as a free agent last spring and did not have a great season, catching 18 passes for 251 yards after making 57 grabs for 690 and four scores with the Raiders the year before despite finishing second among wide receivers in targets.

A big body (6-foot-4, 221 pounds), Hollins can play inside and outside, and could represent a replacement for Robinson. Hollins feels like a strong potential fit for the same reasons that Brown is a strong fit. 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. Hollins can add special teams value, too.

Hollins is the least flashy option of the guys listed, but he represents a cost-effective option that plays an extremely important role in the Smith offense. That blocking receiver is the straw that stirs the drink in this system. So, simply put, they better get someone who can move like bodies in the run game at receiver. Hollins checks that. They can draft someone else in the NFL Draft to round out the wide receiver corps.

Lions WR Josh Reynolds

The last name that I feel compelled to add to this list in Detroit’s Josh Reynolds. Why? Becuase much like Hollins and Brown, he was recently in a heavy run blocking offense in Ben Johnson’s scheme and has the chops to get after it in the run game. If you can find players who can do and be a strong, physical bodies over the middle of the field, they are a fit for this offense. Reynolds has some sauce on his routes and can get open on those over routes and dig routes.

In fact, that was his main route tree throughout his time in the offense and Jared Goff hit him on those exact two routes more than I can count. He fits this offense like a glove, and his toughness and productivity of play action speak to his skillset to make tough hands catches in those tight windows over the middle of the field.