Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report thinks Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Zach Gentry, guard Kevin Dotson and outside linebacker Alex Highsmith are the Steelers’ top trade candidates ahead of training camp. Out of the three, Dotson would make the most sense given their depth at guard.
“While Dotson didn’t play well last season, he’s still a 26-year-old lineman with 30 starts and one playoff appearance on his resume. He would likely yield at least a late-round pick and/or could be part of a package to acquire a player Pittsburgh could actually use in 2023,” Knox wrote. “Dotson is scheduled to carry a cap hit of $2.9 million this year, which is a lot for a backup guard. The Steelers could save $2.7 million of that by trading the Louisiana product before Week 1.”
Highsmith would only make sense to be traded if the Steelers do not think they’ll be able to reach a deal on a long-term contract extension.
🏈 ESPN believes wide receiver George Pickens will be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ X Factor in 2023.
“His 99 Catch Score fueled a successful rookie year and gave Pickens elite upside if he can develop as a route runner and get open more frequently,” ESPN’s Seth Walder wrote. “He posted a below-average 48 Open Score last season, according to ESPN Analytics and NFL Next Gen Stats.
🏈 On the flip side, ESPN thinks the Steelers’ off-ball linebackers are their weakest link in 2023.
“The Steelers made a full-on change at inside linebacker during free agency, replacing Myles Jack, Devin Bush and Robert Spillane with Cole Holcomb, Elandon Roberts and Tanner Muse. Holcomb has been solid as an every-down player in Washington the last two seasons, but Roberts and Muse have primarily been rotational players,” ESPN’s Mike Clay wrote.
🏈 Former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown might have had the best six-year stretch (2013-2018) that the NFL has ever seen. In that span, Brown recorded 686 receptions for 9,145 yards and 67 touchdowns. That’s more total receptions than Mike Evans in his entire career, more yards than Stefon Diggs in his entire career, and more touchdowns than Julio Jones in his entire career.
🏈 The 33rd Team: According to ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI, the Steelers have the second-best uniforms in the NFL. Only the Green Bay Packers ranked ahead of the Steelers.
🏈 USA Today: Doug Farrar ranked T.J. Watt as the fifth-best edge rusher in the NFL, behind Maxx Crosby, Micah Parsons, Nick Bosa and Myles Garrett, who was No. 1.
“Watt was the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, and he ranked first overall in our 2022 list of edge-defenders. Unfortunately, injuries robbed him of seven games last season, but he still racked up seven sacks, four quarterback hits, 20 quarterback hurries, and 25 stops, and he looked very much his old self by the end of last year’s campaign,” Farrar wrote.
🏈 Since his 2021 rookie season, Steelers running back Najee Harris leads the NFL with 579 carries and 694 touches, per NFL Research. Grant Gordon of NFL.com ponders if Harris will continue to be a workhorse for Pittsburgh in 2023.
“The numbers — and offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s propensity to feed Harris the ball — suggest he will,” Gordon wrote. “Over the course of two seasons in the NFL and with the Steelers, Harris has registered 40.8% of Pittsburgh’s touches — the highest percentage in the league, just ahead of the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs (40.7%). Jacobs was the NFL rushing champion in 2022 with 1,653 yards, while the Titans’ Derrick Henry’s 349 rushing attempts led the league. Still, the fresh legs of Harris have been fed more than anyone else over the past two years en route to rushing to consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns.”
🎂 Happy Birthday to Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson, born on July 5, 1996 in Ruskin, Florida. Johnson is entering his fifth season with the Steelers after being selected in the third round out of Toledo in the 2019 NFL Draft. Johnson earned Pro Bowl honors as an alternate in 2021, recording 107 receptions for 1,161 yards (10.9 average) and eight touchdowns. The impressive season helped him earn a two-year, $36.71 million contract extension in August of 2022. Johnson’s production dropped off in 2022, however, as he scored no touchdowns despite catching 86 passes on 147 targets. Johnson’s 147 targets rewrote the record for the most targets in one season without scoring a touchdown. To put that into perspective, the next closest player was Michael Timpson with the 1996 Chicago Bears at 109 targets. Of course, Johnson not scoring a touchdown wasn’t all on him. The Steelers were working in a rookie quarterback and the passing game was in complete disarray at times.
🎥 In honor of Frank Lewis’ birthday on Tuesday, Old Time Football posted Lewis’ 76-yard touchdown catch against the Baltimore Colts in the 1976 AFC divisional round game. The Steelers went on to defeat Baltimore, 40-14.
— Old Time Football 🏈 (@Ol_TimeFootball) July 4, 2023
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