Derek Moye, Justin Brown Have An Uphill Battle For A Roster Spot

Earlier this offseason, there were reports that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was working with his young receivers to help develop some chemistry with them, knowing that it would be needed this year.

Chief among them, of course, was second-year third-round draft pick Markus Wheaton, who figures to get the first opportunity to fill Emmanuel Sanders’ vacated spot in the starting lineup after he signed with the Denver Broncos.

But Roethlisberger wasn’t just playing pitch and catch with Wheaton. Also out there working were Derek Moye and Justin Brown.

Moye, of course, spent last season on the 53-man roster and even caught a redzone touchdown out from the two-yard line on a jump ball. He also dropped another touchdown opportunity, but either way, it’s a small sample size.

What Moye is not, though, is small. The former Penn State wide receiver stands at 6’5”. Brown is no smurf either at 6’3”, but Moye’s success came at his suspense, as Brown was forced to spend his rookie season on the practice squad.

The workouts supposedly went well, and the Steelers were reportedly satisfied with Brown’s development during the course of the season, but will there be room for either one of them on the 2014 roster?

This is what Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider recently wondered, and it’s easy to see why after the Steelers added both Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Of course, the latter signed for a veteran-minimum contract and is not a lock to make the roster.

But with the impending drafting of at least one wide receiver early in the upcoming draft, if not more, one would have to think that the two of them could be on the outside looking in.

Antonio Brown is obviously at the top of the depth chart, etched in stone. Wheaton is penciled in as the starter opposite Brown, while Moore will be in the slot. A rookie draft pick would figure to be not much further down the depth chart than this, and Heyward-Bey will likely tuck in right beneath there.

The Steelers typically carry five wide receivers unless a sixth receiver is a significant contributor on special teams, but that hasn’t been the case since Arnaz Battle was a part of the team. Neither Moye nor Brown can be described as such, though they both have seen time in the third phase of the game.

Of course, it’s still April. The Heyward-Bey signing was modest at best with no guarantee. And the drafting of a receiver is an assumption—albeit an educated one. But one can’t help but wonder if the offseason trajectory of the position says anything about how the organization views Moye and Brown, and whether they are a part of their future.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Bradys_Dad

    If Moye and Brown step up and assuming we draft a WR in the early rounds, the release of DHB could be a more logical move (unless of course he steps up too). Wouldn’t that be a nice change of pace.

  • Jason

    I’m really starting to think we may wait until round 3 or 4 to go WR unless by some chance Evans is there at 15. I’m not saying I necessarily agree with it just the way I see it going.

  • Matt Manzo

    JBrown still has PS ability, right? It may be that last year they wanted to see what they had in the two and this year they’re fine with just one? If JB shows some promise he can stay on the PS, if not he’s gone. Really doesn’t make a big difference other than our emotional attachments to the two local kids. I would like to see JB given a shot at returning. I think it was punts in college but not kicks?

  • SfSteeler

    as it should be…we have a great balance of veterans and youngsters along with a veteran technician WR coach…this all will create motivation and competition and quality in our final starting 5…go Moye!


    Lose J. Brown. Keep D. Moye.


    We may get a shot at Kelvin Benjamin, but Mike Evans will be gone. I think they’re both a good fit for the team, but I still think we need another ‘star-player’ on the OL to go along with Pouncey. I don’t even know if I would call Pouncey a ‘star-player’ anymore. He can never manage to stay healthy for an entire season. He has some of the worst luck I’ve seen in a while for an offensive lineman.

  • Jason

    15 overall is way too early for Benjamin and I agree Pouncey hasn’t been a star since his rookie season.

  • DoctorNoah

    I think we take Ebron in the first and leave those first round WR’s on the board. JB and DM may still pan out. I’m more comfortable at WR than I am at TE by a large margin.

  • JohnB

    i hear Ebron’s a shady blocker, that wont fly here.

  • Jason

    Why not? We let it fly with our offensive lineman, why not our TE’s? LOL

  • SteveM2

    What made America great? Competition, that’s what, and that’s what the Steelers are setting up for the wideouts who find currently themselves behind Brown and Moore. May the best men win, and…..go, Derek Moye!

  • sean mcmartin

    whoever gets picked in the first round needs to actually play and contribute this season..

  • pittsburghjoe

    Pouncey is the most overrated lineman in the NFL. Dont get me started.

  • dgh57

    We didn’t see it necessary to draft a TE when Miller was rehabbing a serious knee injury I don’t see why they would now with him healthy. Age seems to be of no concern to them either as he also had his contract extended.

  • DoctorNoah

    Miller had a middling season last year but we were hopeful. We brought back Spaeth to fill the Heath gap, and we didnt realize how crappy Paulson was. And the TE draft was weak last year as well. That is my reasoning why it didnt happen last year. TE was a position of weakness for us last year in a league that now features a lot of athletic two TE sets.

  • DoctorNoah

    Just a thought on TE vs WR. If I’ve got the basketball and I see a point guard on my power forward, you can bet that’s where the balls going. TEs create mismatches on both linebackers and cornerbacks if theyre fast

  • gene mann

    The Issue is that Moye or Brown is that they have really proved to do nothing to think they can contribute to this team,say what you want about Bey he can cheap was a past starter and seems to contribute at ST

  • mlc43

    Bey has been said to be willing to play ST but he never has been much of a contributor. I agree it’s a low risk signing. I’m not thinking the signing of the two WRs means the Steelers have given up on Moye and Brown. We’ll see how the preseason plays out…I’m sure there will be some surprises.

  • StarSpangledSteeler


    Post of the week.

  • mlc43

    I would rather draft a play making TE than a WR at this point. Heath is getting older but is still the main guy, but having a mismatch machine to run out there for two TE sets would be nice.

  • blackandgoldBullion


  • Steve

    I can honestly see the FO going def in 1 and 2 with wr in the 3rd. It would be nice to see them grab another te and one that’s not so much a project

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I still think Benjamin might be an option here if we actually use the pick and can’t trade back. There just isn’t much else at this point in the draft which meets our needs and is good value. Yeah, you could take another WR rather than him, but not sure that makes sense either.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I am beginning to wonder whether we draft a WR at all. We all have assumed that would be the case, but now we have 6 options and could bring in a couple of undrafted guys. I think drafting someone comes down to the unknowns….how do we really feel as a FO about Wheaton? Moore? DHB? Moye? J. Brown? It isn’t that we don’t have guys, it is that we have unknowns. We really don’t know what we are going to get out of these guys.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I hear you, however this is a very deep draft. Tons of underclassmen and an overwhelming amount of WR’s with the pass happy college game. In normal years, they like to take a WR around the 3rd round or later when they felt they were all set. This year they will certainly take one. If they stick to their normal 3rd round they should get someone with great potential, better than what they are used to getting.

    Justin Brown is practice squad eligible so he probably stays, unless some UDFA goes crazy and takes his spot. Hopefully Justin caught about 2000 balls in the offseason and worked on his speed and routes as he is already a good blocker. If I am Moye, I spent the offseason putting on 15 lbs of muscle to get over the hump as he already has good hands, concentration and is good in the red zone.

    Bottom line is essentially that Moye, Bey, and the UDFA’s fight for probably only 1 spot. And, yes they do take a WR in the 3rd unless they believe Benjamin is one of their so-called special guys. Too bad Bryant called be had in the 3rd as I think he has great potential.

  • NW86

    I think Moye, Brown, and DHB are on about equal footing for the #5 spot. If DHB continues to show a propensity to drop the football, he will likely be cut and one of the kids will make the roster. Also, as mentioned already, Brown still has PS eligibility so he could still end up there as the #6 guy.

  • pat

    Im sorry but the 1st two TEs took last yr are better than any TE this yr

  • shawn

    if JB does have PS eligibility … i think thats exactly what they will do … and drop Moye and replace him with the new WR … DHB will be the 5th at best

  • shawn

    u got that backwards amigo !

  • shawn

    I sure do hope the Steelers feel the same way !

  • DoctorNoah

    Eifert was good and comparable to Ebron, but I would take quite a few 2014 draftees over Zach Ertz and Gavin Escobar. Not saying they’re not good, I just see more in Amaro and ASJ. What’s your reasoning?

  • steeltown

    Don’t leave out the futures guys we brought in, Sampson and Collins might make the PS decision even harder

  • steeltown

    Agreed, the draft is too deep to pass up and as much as I like the potential of Wheaton he is still a relative unknown. I see them selecting WR most likely in the 3rd (unless Evans is still available) Heyward-Bey, Moye, J.Brown, the futures contract guys and the udfa’s will all battle for one spot (#5)

  • Lee Young

    It is better to have TOO many good (hopefully) WRs battling for one or two slots than to have none.

    Gonna make our drafting all that more interesting, but I think they’re going defense again on the first round (even IF it takes him 85 years to contribute….lol).

    Besides, none of those WRs out there are sure things…all have question marks.