You can never have enough good wide receivers.
Someone said that somewhere, I think, and the Pittsburgh Steelers might not have a ton of good wide receivers, but they sure do have a lot of receivers on their depth chart, at the moment.
The team recently added Justin Hunter, from the Buffalo Bills, as their lone free agent acquisition from outside the walls of the Steel City. Most just brushed off the signing, but when you look at the team’s depth chart, you realize just how crazy this battle for roster spots is going to be in 2017.
For the sake of this argument, let’s assume Martavis Bryant has been cleared to return to the team. With him and Hunter added to the depth chart, it leaves 8 receivers vying for 5 positions.
Take a look at the depth chart:
Okay, assuming there aren’t any injuries or suspensions, we have to get this list from 8 players — to 5.
I would think most would agree Hamilton is the first to go. Although he stepped up on many occasions in 2016, he doesn’t do anything which separates him from the competition.
We are down to 7.
The next two cuts will be difficult, but with Bryant back on the team, cutting ties with Darrius Heyward-Bey just seems the natural conclusion. He has been a tremendous teammate and leader, but there comes a time for everyone when they are no longer needed.
We are down to 6.
At this point it is a race between Ayers, Hunter and Coates. Although I love Ayers’ versatility and upside, I release him and try to re-sign him to the practice squad. With the rule now six weeks equates to a full NFL season, Ayers would still be eligible for the practice squad. You would risk him getting poached off waivers, or from the practice squad, but I’ll go with the upside of Hunter and Coates, along with their size, as the Steelers look to revert back to their big play ways in 2017.
And we are down to 5.
Needless to say, the battle at wide receiver this season could be one of the most entertaining, intriguing and difficult battles to predict. Nonetheless, adding Hunter and assuming Bryant returns likely means some tough decisions for the Steelers’ coaching staff.
I discuss this more in the latest BTSC podcast “Steelers Hangout” above. Give it a listen in the player above, and follow all of the BTSC podcasts on iTunes by searching "The Standard is the Standard", as well as on several podcast apps for Android users.
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