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Steelers WR Quez Watkins Named Cut Candidate

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Quez Watkins was named a possible cut candidate by Bleacher Report on Wednesday.



Pittsburgh Steelers Quez Watkins

When the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Quez Watkins, it brought into question just how much of a role he would have with Arthur Smith’s offense. The athleticism is there. But with Watkins joining Van Jefferson as the second receiver added after they traded Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers plus with a litany of WR4 depth outside of him, Watkins’ place on the roster is anything but secure.

There is one trait that Watkins has in spades, and that is elite speed and explosiveness. Coming out of Southern Mississippi, Watkins ran a 4.35 40-yard dash and had a 36 1/2-inch vertical at the NFL Combine, measuring in at 6-foot, 185 pounds. Over his tenure in Philadelphia, Watkins developed as a big play threat. But Bleacher Report believes that he is a possible cut candidate because of other names, like Calvin Austin III, that are still on the roster.

“Watkins was signed for wide receiver depth in free agency, but there does not appear to be a role for him right now,” they wrote. “(Roman) Wilson will get every opportunity to thrive behind George Pickens, while Van Jefferson and Calvin Austin III should be locks to make the roster. That leaves Watkins fighting for the No. 5 wide receiver spot at best. The Steelers may not want to keep five wide outs on the active roster since they have Pat Freiermuth, Darnell Washington and Connor Hayward at tight end.”

This past season, he played in nine games and caught 15 catches for 142 yards and a touchdown. Watkins had his best season in 2021, racking up 647 yards and a touchdown on 43 receptions. He followed that up the next season with 33 catches for 354 yards and a touchdown. He was limited in 2023 by a hamstring injury.

Watkins fits into the fold as a slot receiver more than anything. Over his career, that is where he has played the most snaps, though he is not explicitly locked into being a slot-only player. However, in Arthur Smith’s scheme, it seems likely that Watkins will be someone who stretches the field and will be on the receiving end of some of Russell Wilson’s moonballs down the field.

Watkins also brings some kick return ability, having returned 14 kicks in his career, though he only notched one in 2023. With Roman Wilson now in the room, Watkins’ inside track to the roster will come through special teams rather than contributing heavily in the receiving game. Watkins is another depth piece, coming in as someone who can be a serious threat and offer some special teams versatility on top of that. But he will have to earn his roster spot.