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Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 Exit Interviews: Steven Sims and Gunner Olszewski

Do the Steelers really need two players on the roster who are primarily kick returners?

Las Vegas Raiders v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 NFL season has come to a close. Because the Steelers are among the 31 teams who did not finish fulfilling their ultimate goal, they are in the process of wrapping up their season and moving forward into 2023.

Since the Steelers conduct exit interviews with all their players, we here at BTSC thought we would do the same. By outlining two players each day, we will be able to look at their season in retrospect as well as looking toward the future. Since Coach Tomlin has previously stated he starts his interviews with rookies, first year players, and those heading into free agency, we will do the same. To start, I paired a potential free agent with players on rookie contracts. Now that both of those categories are done, I’ll pair players under contract as we work through this process to eventually cover the entire Steelers roster.

Next up are wide receivers/kick returners Steven Sims and Gunner Olszewski.

Steven Sims

NFL: JAN 08 Browns at Steelers Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Wide receiver/kick returner
Years with the Steelers: 2
Years in the NFL: 4
Contract Status: Restricted Free Agent
Contract Details: Contract expiring with no dead money. The Steelers are able to offer a Restricted Free Agent Tender if they choose.
Games played in 2022: 12 regular season
Games started in 2022: 2 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 284 (offense), 102 (special teams)
PFF score: 55.0 (DNQ for ranking)
Notable stats: Sims had 14 receptions on 23 targets for 104 receiving yards as well as 13 rushes for 70 yards. Sims also had 19 punt returns for 105 yards and 17 kickoff returns for 434 yards including an 89 yard long. Simms also had three fumbles.

Notes: According to Over The Cap, the tender amount for Sims as a restricted free agent this season would be $2.627 million. While it seems a lot to pay for a kick returner, the Steelers might not want to let Sims out of their grasp. Ideally, offering him a different contract, perhaps for two years, might be in their best interest moving forward. The Steelers kick returner the second half of the season after being inactive the first four games, the Steelers have to decide whether or not Sims is going to be the guy next year or they look for another option rather than get Sims under contract.

Gunner Olszewski

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Position: Wide receiver/kick returner
Years with the Steelers: 1
Years in the NFL: 4
Contract Status: Signed through 2023
Contract Details: $2,617,500 salary cap hit for 2023. Would cost the Steelers $617,500 in dead money if released and save $2,000,000.
Games played in 2022: 16 regular season
Games started in 2022: 2 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 216 (offense), 106 (special teams)
PFF score: 57.6 (DNQ for ranking)
Notable stats: Olszewski had five receptions on seven targets for 53 yards as well as eight rushes for 39 yards. Olszewski also had eight punt returns for 55 yards and three kickoff returns for 46 yards. Olszewski also had two fumbles.

Notes: When the Steeler signed Gunner Olszewski last offseason, it had to be with the understanding that he would be the kick returner. After losing the job to Steven Sims early in the season, Olszewski‘s production within the offense does not come close to living up to his $2 million salary for next season. Unless the Steelers want to go back to Olszewski rather than having to sign Steven Sims, holding onto Olszewski would be a luxury and not one that the Steelers really need for 2023.

Make sure you check back each day for another set of exit interviews. If you have missed any of the previous articles, they are listed here:

Kenny Pickett & Mason Rudolph
George Pickens & Miles Boykin
DeMarvin Leal & Larry Ogunjobi
Connor Heyward & Zach Gentry
Mark Robinson & Devin Bush
Jaylen Warren & Benny Snell Jr.
Calvin Austin III & Derek Watt
Najee Harris & Terrell Edmunds
Pat Freiermuth & Trent Scott
Dan Moore Jr. & Jesse Davis
Isaiahh Loudermilk & Chris Wormley
Tre Norwood & Damontae Kazee
Pressley Harvin III & Marcus Allen
Kendrick Green & J.C. Hassenauer
Alex Highsmith & Malik Reed
Kevin Dotson & Tyson Alualu
Ahkello Witherspoon & Cam Sutton
Myles Jack & Robert Spillane
Minkah Fitzpatrick & Karl Joseph
Levi Wallace & James Pierre
Miles Killebrew & Elijah Riley
T.J. Watt & Jamir Jones
Montravius Adams & Tae Crowder
Cam Heyward & Jonathan Marshall
Chris Boswell & Christian Kuntz
Arthur Maulet & William Jackson III