The Pittsburgh Steelers have hired Zach Azzanni as their next wide receivers coach, according to multiple media reports.
Azzanni, 47, comes to the Steelers from the New York Jets, where he spent the 2023 season. He has also had stops coaching wide receivers in the NFL with the Denver Broncos from 2018-22 and the Chicago Bears in 2017.
Perhaps of most significant note for Steelers fans is Azzanni’s connection to legendary Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Azzanni was the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach at his alma mater, Central Michigan from 2007-09, and he was instrumental in coming to campus in 2007.
He left CMU in 2010 for a job at Florida, and also had collegiate stops as offensive coordinator at Western Kentucky in 2011, wide receivers coach at Wisconsin in 2012, and wide receivers coach, recruiting coordinator and passing game coordinator at Tennessee from 2013-16. Azzanni was in Knoxville while Arthur Smith was a young assistant with the Tennessee Titans, and the two may have connected then, but Azzanni has no obvious connections to any other member of the Steelers coaching staff.
In Pittsburgh, Azzanni will replace Frisman Jackson, who was not retained after two years as wide receivers coach.
The task will be a large one, as both starting receivers, Diontae Johnson and George Pickens, have shown to be capable of great athletic feats but also significant mental and behavioral lapses in their time with the club.
Additionally, the team’s unit has little depth, with Allen Robinson II a likely salary cap casualty and Miles Boykin a free agent.
In addition to Azzanni, the Steelers also hired Tom Arth and retained quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan on Thursday, likely filling the roles opened by the departures of Jackson and offensive assistant Glenn Thomas. They still need to replace departed assistant quarterbacks coach David Corley and quality control coach Matt Tomsho.