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Scotty Miller Marks Fourth Ex-Falcon to Sign with Steelers This Offseason

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Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith

The Pittsburgh Steelers are signing free agent wide receiver Scotty Miller to a one-year contract, according a report by Adam Schefter of ESPN. The Steelers now have added four players this offseason who played in Atlanta for Arthur Smith, as Miller joins Cordarrelle Patterson, Van Jefferson and MyCole Pruitt.

In some sense, the Steelers have turned into Atlanta North, especially at the skill positions. There’s no doubt about it, it’s clear that new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has a big say in some of the Steelers’ decision-making. The familiarity in a first-year offensive scheme certainly doesn’t hurt, however. The quartet of former Falcons could be used to help teach others the offense.

Miller is 5-foot-9 and 174-pounds. With the Falcons last season, he was the No. 5 wide receiver option in terms of targets. Miller played in all 17 games and was targeted just 16 times, catching 11 of them for 161 yards and two touchdowns.

Despite his small stature, Miller has spent most of his career playing outside receiver, and not in the slot. The Steelers have a need for an outside receiver to pair with George Pickens, though Miller’s history does not suggest he would be a better option than already-signed Van Jefferson for that role.

It has been a quiet last two seasons for Jefferson. The 2021 season with the Los Angeles Rams was his best year when he scored 802 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Jefferson has played both inside and outside. He comes to Pittsburgh as a solid blocker, which they needed as depth in this room, with Miller, Quez Watkins and Calvin Austin III being the deep field stretchers.

If the Steelers move Connor Heyward to fullback permanently, which could be the plan, Pruitt could backfill as a reserve tight end. Either way, in an offense that asks many of its skill players to go out there and block, the team needed someone other than Washington who could be reliable. Pruitt can be that, and while he only had nine receptions a year ago, Pruitt has stuck around in the NFL as a top blocker.

In 2022, Pruitt caught four touchdown passes in Smith’s scheme. Regardless, he will primarily be asked to block at a high level for Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren with the Steelers. Pittsburgh still has needs up and down the offense, but a run-blocking tight end was something the team needed to add at some point. Rodney Williams remains on the roster, too, and he became a core special teamer, so a deep tight end competition will occur at training cam to see who makes the team.

Patterson is one of the best, if not the best, kickoff returners of all-time. He has had nine such kickoff returns throughout his career, and he averages 29.3 yards per kickoff return. That is likely where the onus of this move is coming from, as Patterson should fill that role immediately. Mike Tomlin noted there would be a change in body type on these kickoffs, but not just that, returners themselves had to be more than just pure speed, but have excellent vision. Patterson checks that box. Over the past two seasons, over 16 returns, he has one touchdown return and averages 27.3 yards per return. At 33 years old, it’s easy to question how much juice he has left, but numbers would say there’s something there. And the new kickoff rules should benefit Patterson, too.

The rule is based on one the XFL used for the last two springs. The ball is kicked off from the 35-yard line, like it is now, but instead of the kick coverage team being placed alongside the kicker, they are on the opposing 40-yard line. The blockers are lined up between the 30 and 35-yard line, 10 to 15 yards away.

Kicks must land inside the 20-yard line, and balls kicked into the end zone will now come all the way out to the 30-yard line, incentivizing teams to try to get the ball returned. Players can’t move until the ball is caught or hit the ground. Here’s an example of a touchdown returned by the San Antonio Brahmas last year.

Patterson has been a wide receiver and running back in the past. Patterson should be the third running back behind Jaylen Warren and Najee Harris while adding a gadget play element.

He only had 50 rushes for 181 yards a year ago, though the season before that, Patterson added 695 rushing yards on 144 carries, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Regardless, he is a versatile weapon that the team can work into their game plan, and the new kickoff rules will certainly allow for some ingenuity.