After back-to-back 8-8 seasons the Steelers have taken a different approach to this offseason and are much more active in free agency than anyone anticipated. They’ve filled holes in some spots and created competitions in others, particularly in the receiving corps. Even with the free agency additions, the Pittsburgh Steelers will still be eyeing the wide receiver talent in next month’s NFL Draft.
The Steelers responded to the free agent departures of two wide receivers with two free agent signings. Now it wasn’t really an even exchange because the Steelers lost their No. 2 receiver in Emmanuel Sanders and their No. 3 receiver in Jerricho Cotchery. They signed Lance Moore to presumably be their No. 3 option and Darrius Heyward-Bey was just signed most likely to provide competition to the inexperienced Wheaton, Moye, Brown, and the remaining wide receivers who will report to Latrobe in August. At this point in time depth charts really don’t mean a whole lot anyway. Who the No. 2, 3, or 4 wide receiver will be is a question that will be answered after the “football in shorts” is done and the pads come on.
The Steelers went into this offseason knowing that Emmanuel Sanders would most likely be priced out; in fact they didn’t even make a contract offer to him, presumably to allow Markus Wheaton to step into his shoes. However, with 6 career receptions to his credit, I don’t blame the Steelers for wanting to throw some more bodies in the mix to earn that No. 2 spot aside Antonio Brown.
They won’t stop at their free agency signings either. The draft “experts” over at ESPN are speculating the Steelers will be after a wide receiver with one of their first three picks in the draft. While the top 2 receiver draft prospects in Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans might not be there at the 15th pick, the draft is expected to be deep with talent, albeit underclassmen talent, but still talent at the wide receiver positions.
Basically the Steelers are in no way going to rest on their laurels after inking Darrius Heyward-Bey, a supposed first round bust from the Oakland Raiders who had the fastest speed in the 2009 draft, even over Mike Wallace. I’m predicting a healthy competition for Emmanuel Sanders’ old spot as the No. 2 receiver. The eventual winner might not even be on the roster as of today. Whoever wants it the most will earn it.