The Steelers are blessed with one of the most talented receivers the league has seen in a long time in the presence of Antonio Brown. It is expected that despite the recent "annoyances" as Art Rooney III calls them, the Steelers and AB will hook up on a long-term union. But AB needs help.
The drug-suspension absence of Martavis Bryant proved in the long run to be debilitating to the team and his return to form isn't guaranteed. Free agent Markus Wheaton was injured most of 2016 and didn't do much when available. His return is uncertain. Darius Heyward-Bey, Cobi Hamilton and Eli Rogers were serviceable and valuable, but aren't enough to concern defenses. Then there's the enigmatic Sammie Coates and his penchant for drops.
Here are the top free agent receivers available in 2017 and where they may or may not fit in the burgh of Pitt.
1. Terrelle Pryor - Cleveland Browns
Here's a guy that would be a perfect compliment to Antonio Brown. The hometown kid would bring his 6'4" frame to Heinz Field. His 77 catches for 1,007 yards led the Browns, a team that had a myriad of quarterback issues in 2016. He only had four touchdowns, but a stable quarterback can elevate that stat. A few things would stifle this match made-in-heaven. First, the Browns are likely to put the franchise tag on Pryor. He's also expected to command over $9M per year and he may not want to return home due to possible distractions, as he mentioned in the past. This may be a pipe dream, but imagine the possibilities.
2. Alshon Jeffrey - Chicago Bears
The Bears are likely to let Jeffrey test the free agent market instead of franchising him for $17.5M. Jeffrey has good size at 6'3", but his numbers have waned due to injury in 2015 (807 yards) and a PED suspension in 2016(821 yards) Jeffrey had 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven scores in 2013 and 85 for 1,133 yards and ten touchdowns in 2014. If Jeffrey can get his head and health on track, he could quite possible return to game breaking form. It seems like he's going to get a big pay day. But with stars needing new deals in Pittsburgh and Jeffrey's unclean record, it won't be with the Steelers.
3. Josh Gordon - Cleveland Browns
Again off-the-field issues make Gordon taboo for the Steelers and many other teams. When he's clean and mentally engaged, Josh Gordon is spectacular. His 2013 tally of 87 catches, 1,646 yards and nine scores was phenomenal. However, his well-documented issues and suspensions make him a high risk. With no guarantee if Gordon's problems are behind him, the Steelers who are dealing with Martavis Bryant's suspensions, would find this player way too risky.
4. Pierre Garçon - Washington Redskins
Pierre is of quality character, but the veteran is 30 and has only eclipsed 1,000 yards twice in his career. Last year, Garçon had 79 grabs for 1,041 yards and three scores. The 6' former Colt would be a good compliment to the receivers already in house in Pittsburgh, but it would depend on a price tag that could get north of $8-9M.
5. Kenny Britt - Los Angeles Rams
Britt finally broke a grand in yards with 1,002 on 68 catches and five TDs in 2016. At age 28, the veteran of eight NFL seasons seemed to turn a corner after years of being labeled as lazy and lethargic. At 6'3" Britt possesses the size that the Steelers covet in a receiver if he has truly finally seen the light. However, the Steelers may not want to take the risk on a historical question mark when it comes to attitude.
6. DeSean Jackson - Washington Redskins
Jackson still possesses great speed and is a dangerous weapon downfield. The nine-year vet had 1,005 yards from 56 receptions and four touchdowns in 2016. Jackson could stay with Washington, but he has been linked heavily to a Phily reunion or a return home to Los Angeles. With even more suitors lining up than the aforementioned three teams, I don't foresee the Steelers being one of them with their needs geared more towards a taller player.
Other Notable Free Agent Wide Receivers
Adam Thielen-RFA-Minnesota Vikings
Dontrelle Inman-RFA-Los Angeles Chargers
Cordarrelle Patterson-Minnesota Vikings
Michael Floyd-New England Patriots
Kenny Stills-Miami Dolphins
Taylor Gabriel-RFA-Atlanta Falcons
Robert Woods-Buffalo Bills
Anquan Bolden-Detroit Lions
Kamar Aiken-Baltimore Ravens
Ted Ginn Jr.-Carolina Panthers
Kendall Wright-Tennessee Titans
Terrance Williams-Dallas Cowboys
Brian Quick-Los Angeles Rams
Brandon LaFell-Cincinnati Bengals
Markus Wheaton-Pittsburgh Steelers
Vincent Jackson-Tampa Bay Buccaneers