Pre-Draft Free Agent Movements: Wide Receiver
The vast bulk of the offseason roster moves to be made before the draft are already completed, so now is a good time to start taking a look at how the month of March (and the early portions of April) have affected the depth chart.
The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the offseason with 21 unrestricted free agents. They retained many of them, but also lost a few that they likely wished to keep, and were forced to replace them from outside the organization. The Steelers also released a few players, in addition to signing half a dozen (and counting) players from other teams.
The next position we will take a look at is wide receiver, and the offseason gains and losses there that the team has experienced.
Lance Moore: The signing of Lance Moore only went in motion after the Steelers realized that they were at serious risk of losing Jerricho Cotchery to the Carolina Panthers, which is what ended up happening.
Moore is being brought in as a veteran slot receiver, and he has an accomplished history of doing just that, as we’ve previously looked examined. The quicker he gets acclimated to the offense, the better off they’ll be.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: The decision to bring in Darrius Heyward-Bey was predicated entirely on its low risk nature. Should he fail to make the roster, which is a very real possibility, the Steelers will only endure a $65,000 cap hit.
On the up side, he’s tall and fast and is a consistent threat for a big play, even if he chronically drops the football. If he ends up as the fourth or fifth receiver for this team, that should be considered a good thing.
Emmanuel Sanders: Emmanuel Sanders cashed in in free agency after his best professional season, catching six touchdowns last year with the Steelers. Still, they knew he was going to be out of their range anyway, and they weren’t comfortable with his performance as a starter anyway. It’s difficult to keep a demoted starter around, and that’s clearly where things were headed.
Jerricho Cotchery: Jerricho Cotchery is the one that got away. He had to make a choice between Pittsburgh or Carolina, and he chose the latter. They offered at least $1 million more than what the Steelers likely could afford, if not $2 million based on Moore’s contract. While he was a strong locker room presence, and his blocking was an asset, the market wasn’t right to bring him back and they were forced to move on.
Remaining Free Agents:
Plaxico Burress: The Steelers re-signed Plaxico Burress immediately in free agency last year, but he injured his shoulder during training camp. Even then, he was at serious risk of not making the roster anyway over Derek Moye and Justin Brown. There’s no reason to assume they’ll be signing him again.