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Steelers Free Agency Preview: Wide Receivers

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are due to deal receiver Antonio Brown seemingly any day now, and when Brown is officially out of Pittsburgh, a huge hole will be left for whoever replaces him in terms of production on the field.

The top of the Steelers pass-catching depth chart features JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ryan Switzer and James Washington, all at different stages of their career. Smith-Schuster is well on his way to NFL stardom, Switzer looks to settle his feet in as a young slot receiver, and Washington will need to find some sort of progress after what many consider a disappointing rookie season.

Eli Rogers and Darrius Heyward-Bey may find themselves in new uniforms for 2019, as both are set to hit the open market.

The Steelers have $27.4 million sunk into the wide receiver position, per Spotrac.com. Antonio Brown’s $22.1 million accounts for most of that figure currently, while Smith-Schuster and Washington are the only other rostered receivers to see an annual salary of +$1,000,000.

While Pittsburgh may focus their efforts in the draft to find another young receiver for the depth chart, a veteran presence in the receivers room would pay dividends for the development of a depth chart that has an average age of under 25.

What are some possible fits for the Steelers in free agency? While this class of receivers doesn’t possess true star-power that can match what the Steelers are losing, valuable pass-catches are still within range of Pittsburgh’s grasp.

Golden Tate

Golden Tate is likely the best receiver currently on the open market, but may also cost the most on an annual basis. Tate made $6.2 million in 2018, but will hope to see that figure rise when looking for his next team. Tate saw great numbers as a member of the Detroit Lions, but suffered from a lack of involvement after being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tate, should he find his way to the Steel City, would assume Brown’s role as a number one receiver and make defenses respect him enough to not double Smith-Schuster. Tate has displayed speed to get behind cornerbacks on deep routes, while also being able to make catches in the middle of the field or tip-toe on the sideline. Tate’s game is solid all-around, and would pair well with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner’s creative play-calling.

Donte Moncrief

Donte Moncrief made $9.6 million in 2018, and will likely see another contract similar to that number, if not a tad lower. Moncrief’s numbers don’t jump off the page with his one year stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars (48 rec, 668 yards, 3 TD) thanks to lack of QB play+run first mentality, but the 26-year-old offers a lot of upside as a speedy route-runner that has showcased his ability to hit the big play any given touch.

While Moncrief may not come in and draw attention away from JuJu, he will provide a respectable option on the opposite side of the field. Moncrief is not a huge name that will get fans excited, but the tools he possesses makes him one of the better free agent wide receivers available.

Tyrell Williams

Tyrell Williams only made $2.9 million in 2018, but is expected to see a huge pay increase when free agency opens. Williams, who caught 41 balls for 653 yards and 5 scores (tied for first among free agent WR’s) will likely the draw one of the larger crowds of teams interested in his services.

His 6’4″ frame would provide the Steelers with another big-bodied receiving option, and his knack for coming down with ridiculous balls downfield would be a welcome sign for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Williams is a straight-up playmaker on the field with athleticism to match his big frame. Williams would find a lot of success in black and gold, but it’s up to the Steelers if they want to fork over some cash to make it happen.

Chris Conley

If Tyrell Williams is option A, Chris Conley is option B. Conley’s big frame closely matches that of Williams, and the touchdown production mirrored each other in 2018. Yet Conley was buried on what was an extremely talented Chiefs roster, not shining quite like Williams did in LA.

Yet Conley still embodies a solidified red-zone target, and would provide a nice complement to Smith-Schuster should the 26-year-old continue to improve his game. He is not as polished as Williams when it comes to route-running and does not have highlight reel catches, yet Conley could make positive contributions to the Steelers if given the opportunity.

Other Free Agent WR’s

These guys, for one reason or another, didn’t make the list of potential Steelers targets. Whether it be an expensive price tag, not fitting in the scheme or just flat-out might not wanting to come to Pittsburgh, these guys are unlikely to see themselves in black and gold.

However, the NFL is a funny business more times than not, and not everything can officially be ruled out. These guys may still find their way to Pittsburgh, even if it’s just for a visit.

  • Demaryius Thomas
  • Randall Cobb
  • Tavon Austin
  • Ryan Grant
  • Kevin White
  • Devin Funchess

In today’s modern-day passing league, the importance of quality receivers continues to become a staple in most offenses. If Roethlisberger plans on throwing another 5,000 yards next season, the Steelers may very well find another piece to that puzzle in free agency.

NFL

Report: Rescheduled Steelers-Titans Game to be Nationally Televised on CBS

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The rescheduled game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans is expected to be nationally televised on CBS, according to a report by the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand.

As for when the game will be played, Marchand is reporting it will be played on Monday at 5 p.m., or Tuesday at 6 or 7 p.m.

The Steelers and Titans were originally supposed to square off Sunday at 1 p.m., but that game has been postponed after three Titans players and five staff members tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. The total has no risen to ten since the outbreak was first reported.

The NFL announced in a statement Wednesday that the game would be postponed to Monday or Tuesday to “allow additional time for further daily COVID-19 testing.”

Another option that has been discussed would reschedule the game for Week 7, which is Tennessee’s bye week, and push the Steelers-Ravens matchup scheduled for that Sunday to Week 8. The Steelers and Ravens currently share a bye Week 8.

Marchand added that the league prefers to play the game Monday to keep competitive balance, while CBS wants to play the game at 7 p.m. as to not disrupt their news programming.

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Steelers

Highlights from Steelers Practice 9/30/20

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The Steelers were back to work on the practice field Wednesday despite learning their upcoming game against Tennessee is being moved to either Monday or Tuesday.

In this clip, the defense, most notably the secondary works on coverage, runs to stay conditioned and shows the chemistry of the entire unit.

Footage courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers

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Steelers

Where Would a Monday or Tuesday Night Steelers Game Be Broadcast?

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If the NFL follows historical precedent, the the Steelers game against the Titans, moved to Monday or Tuesday night by the league on Wednesday, will still be broadcast locally on CBS affiliate KDKA-TV, but no final decision has been for the game at this time, Steelers Now has learned.

In the past, when Sunday games have been postponed to a weeknight for other issues, the games have been broadcast locally as they would normally be on a Sunday afternoon, and not nationally in competition with other broadcasts.

ESPN has exclusive national broadcast rights for Monday night games and they will be airing the Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers game, starting at 8:15 p.m. Monday night.


There is no exclusive national broadcast window for Tuesday nights, of course, but there would have to be some type of arrangement made with CBS to remove the game from that network and have it be broadcast nationally.

KDKA-TV and other CBS affiliates in the Pittsburgh and Nashville markets would also have to deal with the prospect of pre-empting primetime network broadcasts. CBS is scheduled to air long-running series Big Brother on Monday night and NCIS on Tuesday night.

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