The Pitsburgh Steelers offense is the team's strength by a far margin, and one of the reasons you can say such a thing is based on their incredible depth at wide receiver. This depth was on display when the team had to play the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs without Antonio Brown at their disposal. Players like Martavis Bryant and Darrius Heyward-Bey all stepped up and made plays for the team, and Heyward-Bey's services might be with another team in 2016, since he is set to be a free agent next season.
Today, it is time to break down the wide receivers and tight ends who may or may not be brought back in 2016 for one reason or another.
Steelers Wide Receiver / Tight End Free Agents:
Darrius Heyward-Bey - WR - $825,000
David Nelson - WR - $745,000
Rob Blanchflower - TE - $435,000
There aren't many difficult decisions on this list, but Heyward-Bey's play in 2015 makes an obvious decision a little more difficult. Heyward-Bey wasn't just a solid 4th wide receiver, but also a tremendous gunner on special teams. His versatility, and unselfishness, could have him back in black and gold next season, but at what capacity?
The Steelers drafted Sammie Coates in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft for a reason, and after his playoff performance against Denver seems poised to be a part of the regular WR corps next season. Coates could move Heyward-Bey into the "expendable" category, but it should be noted the impact Heyward-Bey had on this team, and more importantly, the wide receivers on the roster.
Prediction: Heyward-Bey's 2015 season should help him find a team which will give him a better chance at seeing the field more than special teams. You can't blame Heyward-Bey for wanting to find a team which could offer him such an opportunity. Unfortunately, I don't see Heyward-Bey returning to the Steelers next season, not with Coates and others poised to make their mark on the 2016 Steelers roster, and Heyward-Bey deserving a better chance with another team.
Previous Free Agent Breakdowns: