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Steelers’ No. 2 WR Position Tabbed as Second-Biggest Roster Hole in NFL

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Steelers WR George Pickens
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens during minicamp on June 13, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers No

As it stands now, the Pittsburgh Steelers don’t have a clear-cut No. 2 option at wide receiver. The Steelers’ brass seems comfortable with their receiver depth, however. Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith said every year players step up and rise to the occasion at wide receiver, while receivers coach Zach Azzanni claimed that labeling receivers in a number system is overrated.

General manager Omar Khan is also encouraged by the trajectory of the wide receiver room.

“We just finished minicamp and I was talking to Coach T and a couple of the other guys in my department, and we were just saying how good we felt about that room,” Khan said during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan. “Just the growth from when the offseason program started to where we are now. Even the improvements from the start of OTAs to now has really been awesome to see.

“We like the group. We really, really do. And they’re working hard. This was an important OTA and minicamp for us. Got a lot of new faces on offense and just seeing how they jell together, how they worked, and I can just tell you, it’s trending really positively. It was awesome.”

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Roman Wilson

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Roman Wilson at the team’s first day of OTAs, May 21, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Kevin Patra of NFL.com isn’t buying what the Steelers are saying. He thinks the wide receiver depth is a massive concern. He tabbed the Steelers’ No. 2 wide receiver position as the second-biggest remaining roster hole in the NFL.

“Whenever I talk to Yinzer friends, the very first comment is about the Steelers’ receiver room. It’s George Pickens and a trove of Riddler-style question marks,” Patra wrote. “Third-round pick Roman Wilson profiles as the most likely candidate to step into a sizable role next to Pickens, but it’s a lot to ask a low-production, mid-round rookie to immediately play a substantial role in the NFL.”

Patra makes a valid point that relying on Wilson to break out is a risky proposition. It could happen, but there’s no guarantee that he’s going to have a Puka Nacua-like season.

“However, we’ve seen the Steelers strike gold in the draft in the past. Perhaps The Fastest Man in Hawaii can become the latest WR find in Pittsburgh,” Patra wrote. “The rest of the gaggle isn’t as promising. With Van Jefferson entering Year 5, we can stop hoping for a breakout campaign. Calvin Austin III and Quez Watkins profile as gadget options. Denzel Mims, Marquez Callaway and Scotty Miller are fliers. Tight end Pat Freiermuth will play a significant role in the passing game. TEs Darnell Washington and Connor Heyward should also see increased chances to contribute in Arthur Smith’s offense. But it will be a surprise if the Steelers don’t add to the WR room before Week 1.”

The Steelers have limited options right now, but perhaps they could strike a trade for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. It would require a boatload of draft capital to acquire Aiyuk, however. On top of that, Aiyuk reportedly wants $30 million per year. The 49ers also are not open to trading their star receiver even though he’s unhappy with the team.