The past few seasons have seen the Pittsburgh Steelers make some trades/transactions right before the start of the regular season. In 2017 it was a trade with the San Francisco 49ers for Vance McDonald, and in 2018 it was a trade with the Oakland Raiders for return specialist/wide receiver Ryan Switzer.
It seemed like no big deal at the time. The Steelers needed an experienced return man, and his ability to play in the slot was deemed as helpful with Eli Rogers nursing a torn ACL. But what fans didn’t know is the mental torture Switzer was going through after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, traded to the Oakland Raiders and then being shuttled to the Steelers.
“We are playing Cleveland in three days, and he [Mike Tomlin] says to me, ‘Make sure you get your sh-t together because you are going to be in there a lot,’” Switzer told Mark Kaboly of TheAthletic.com regarding remarks made in the aftermath of the trade that sent Switzer from Oakland to Pittsburgh less than two weeks before Week One.
“Now, I am thinking I am just going to come here and catch some punts and some kicks and be kind of an afterthought,” Switzer said. “It was like ‘Wow!’ He didn’t care where I came from and what they thought of me, and he puts me out there Week One against Cleveland [for seven offensive snaps] because he has trust in me. . . .
“I have always been a guy who if you show trust in me, I will run through a brick wall or die trying,” Switzer said. “For him to do that, I felt really good.”
Tomlin might have been the one person who lit a fire under Switzer to get his mind back in the game, but Ben Roethlisberger was one of the players who took time to make sure Switzer knew he was welcome in Pittsburgh, and not the afterthought he envisioned upon being told of his trade.
“I don’t know why he [Ben Roethlisberger] chose me to try to pick me up and get me involved, but he did and I am grateful for that and I don’t take that for granted,” Switzer said.
However, before the Steelers welcomed Switzer, they were literally picking him off the mat of life after a near knockout punch.
“It was more than I didn’t think I belonged anymore,” Switzer told Kaboly. “I have never had somebody not want me before. I have never been through a trade, I have never been through a team basically telling me that they didn’t have a need for me. I took a hit in confidence and my mindset.”
“I felt really bad,” Switzer told Kaboly. “I told her [his wife] that this isn’t worth me feeling like this anymore.”
So, fast forward to 2019 and Switzer isn’t just returning to the same team for the first time in his NFL career, but he is returning to a place where he could make an impact. Switzer is one of the six wide receivers who will likely make the team, and his ability to play special teams, and have the trust of Roethlisberger, will be huge for him seeing the field with regularity next season.
In 2018, Switzer tallied 36 catches on 44 targets for 253 yards and one touchdown. Not mind blowing statistics by any stretch of the imagination, but when you look at his previous career high of 6 catches, with the Cowboys in 2017, it was a huge step forward. Now Switzer hopes to take another step forward in 2019 and help the Steelers not just make the playoffs, but with another Super Bowl.