clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2015 Free Agency: Steelers hunting for a return man

They have one of the best return men in the NFL on their roster already. The issue is he's also likely to be one of the most targeted receivers in the NFL as well. Who's available in free agency to fill Antonio Brown's punt return role?

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

DeAngelo Williams is visiting the Steelers Friday.

Returning kicks likely isn't going to be in his job description.

Same for cornerback Patrick Robinson, who's the only other reported target of the Steelers in free agency. Jason La Canfora's tweet Thursday suggests they are still working the wire in terms of finding players to help improve the team.

It doesn't speak much of 2014 third round draft pick Dri Archer. Then again, we knew that. Archer was taken off kick returns midway through the season.

It wouldn't be in line with past tendencies for the Steelers to bring in a return man to handle just those duties. Not since the Steelers brought in Allen Rossum in 2007 or Stefan Logan after him has a Steelers player made the 53-man roster with the strict role of a return man.

Najeh Davenport carried the ball from the backfield along with plodding forward on kick returns. LeGarrette Blount sometimes got the ball between his brief service as a kick returner. Markus Wheaton filled the role after Blount left and he still was targeted a few times in the passing game.

Outside of that, the Steelers haven't been a solid return team in a while, and even with the lingering wistful dreams of Reggie Dunn and so many other speed demons who tried to find roles as return men, the team's recent history suggests if they do want a player to bring in special teams contributory value, he'd need to be able to play a position as well.

Let this serve as preparation for the future story regarding Antonio Brown begrudgingly being put back on punt return duties. Not even 129 receptions mask his obvious talent as a return man, but bringing in someone who can bring that kind of skill would be idea.

If that's their key signing this free agency period, the Steelers can say they improved. Finding someone to fit that description may be the challenge of the offseason.