Steelers' Depth at Wide Receiver Still Lacking After Draft

SAINT JOSEPH, MO - JULY 31: Head coach Todd Haley motions toward Jerheme Urban #83 during Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp on July 31, 2011 in Saint Joseph, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The consensus opinion of the Pittsburgh Steelers' draft in 2012 was they made out very well. It's tough to argue a world-beating David DeCastro at one of the team's biggest needs, a potentially outstanding offensive tackle in the second round, or a future starting nose tackle in the fourth. Add in an all-purpose machine like Chris Rainey in the fifth, and they walked away with stronger pieces than what they had to start.

The one issue remaining mostly unresolved is at wide receiver.

There is some excitement brewing about seventh round pick Toney Clemons, a good size-and-speed combo receiver from Colorado who came on strong at the end of last season. Even if he does pan out (statistically, odds of a seventh round pick making a pro roster are slim, to say the least), that would mean the Steelers, as it sits right now, would be giving him the 5th receiver position with no competition.

There isn't anyone else on the roster.

The Steelers signed WR Jerricho Cotchery to a two-year deal, and WR Mike Wallace has said he isn't going to sign his one-year restricted free agency contract "until he has to." WRs Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are both in the final years of their rookie deals, and both are eligible for restricted free agency next year.

Simply put, the Steelers do not currently have a receiver who will be under contract after the 2013 season.

That isn't a reason to panic, or to suggest SNAFU in regards to the position. It just means the Steelers are likely to continue exploring depth options at receiver.

Texans WR Jacoby Jones was released Tuesday after Houston drafted DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin in the third and fourth rounds, respectively. Jones struggled mightily last season filling in for WR Andre Johnson, who missed much of the year with a hamstring injury. His fumble early in Houston's 20-13 loss at Baltimore in the playoffs is something the Texans won't forget any time soon. But his five years in the league, kick return ability and strong probability he could not ask for more than a veteran minimum contract could make him an enticing reclamation project for Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and receivers coach Scottie Montgomery.

There are also other intriguing options still available on the free agency wire. Jerheme Urban, a Todd Haley pupil in Kansas City from 2010-11, and in Arizona from 2007-08 (Urban stayed with the Cardinals in 2009 before signing as a free agent with the Chiefs in 2010).

He's a blue-collar, tough and physical receiver who may not have big career numbers (91 catches, 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns in seven playing seasons), but bringing in a veteran who understands Haley and the offense can help push the younger receivers for playing time. Plus, given the fact none of the Steelers' top three receivers - Wallace, Brown and Sanders - have a contract after next year, and salary cap limitations being what they are, putting in some continuity now for what appears nearly certain one of those three will be gone after 2012, isn't a bad idea.

Former Jacksonville receiver Kassim Osgood, a special teams standout (three-time Pro Bowl selection with San Diego), fits the Arnaz Battle mold as a 5th receiver who will contribute on kick coverage. Battle is still available in free agency after Pittsburgh released him this offseason.

The Steelers likely aren't looking for a guy to compete for 70 catches this season, but rather, an experienced, low-priced veteran who can step in when needed, even if the situation won't be good if they receive dozens of snaps each game. Jacoby, Urban and Osgood bring different elements to their game (returns and experience) than just simply their receiving talents, and could be guys the Steelers talk to before or during training camp.


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