Wheaton Says His First Choice Would Be To Return To Steelers In 2017

Even though his 2016 season is now over, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton is saying all the right thigs when it comes to his possible future with the team.

“I want to stay here. That would be my first choice,” Wheaton said Monday, according to Chris Bradford of The Beaver County Times. “Obviously, it’s business. We’ll see how it goes.”

Wheaton, who was placed on the Steelers Reserve/Injured list a few weeks ago, is currently scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March now that his rookie contract is set to expire. The former third-round draft pick out of Oregon State only managed to register 4 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown before his season came to an end because of a shoulder injury.

In his four season with the Steelers, Wheaton caught 107 passes for 1,508 yards and 8 touchdowns. However, 97 of those catches came over the course of two seasons. Nearly one full year ago, Wheaton had his best game of his career that included him catching 9 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown in the Steelers Week 12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

While Wheaton states that he would like to stay in Pittsburgh, the chances of that ultimately happening our very slim. For starters, the Steelers look like their ready to move forward with Antonio Brown, Eli Rogers, Sammie Coates and Darrius Heyward-Bey as their top-four wide receivers next season. On top of that, there’s a chance currently suspended wide receiver Martavis Bryant will return in 2017 as well. If that’s not enough, young wide receivers Cobi Hamilton, Canaan Severin and Demarcus Ayers appear set to do battle for spots on the roster next year during training camp.

Should Wheaton ultimately re-sign with the Steelers, one would think he would have to accept a very minimal offer. Even though his 2016 season was wiped out by an injury, Wheaton is still likely to receive some interest from other teams during free agency because of his past performances during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

  • stan

    The only way that’s going to happen is if Bryant has another relapse. AB, Coates, Rogers, Bryant and DHB are your top 5 and Cobi Hamilton is clearly a keeper as well. They still have Demarcus Ayers too. I don’t see them spending money or even a draft pick on a receiver in the offseason.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I wouldn’t mind it. Afraid someone would out bid us tho.

  • Jim Foles

    Well Sanders won a SB… Would we have if we resigned him??

  • Eric Whyuwannaknow

    I like Wheaton, but his time is up in a Steelers uni. The WR position will be loaded next year and there just won’t be any room for him on the squad. He would fall on the depth chart as long as Bryant stays clean and Bryant would be your #2 WR. Eli Rodgers is a good slot guy and another year of seasoning would make him that much better. The point is where would Wheaton fall on the depth chart?…#3 at best and that isn’t even assured. I haven’t even gotten to the other WR’s that have shown a lot of promise like Hamilton, Coates and the steady DHB. Sorry to see him go, but that’s where the road leads for him. I just can’t see Wheaton sticking around for another year.

  • T3xassteelers

    I’d gladly welcome him back. Maybe he’d take a 1 year deal seeing as he didn’t play much this year and his peak value definitely wouldn’t be now. It sure would be nice to have AB, Bryant, Wheaton and Coates as a very formidable 4 man team.

  • Kam Mann

    Bye, save the money and pay Bell. Markus Fragile McDroppy was the Steelers 5th WR at best

  • COSteel

    Save the cash – spend it on a Def playa!

  • Bob Loblaw

    I have a hard time reconciling whatever amount of money he’d get paid versus the upside of drafting a young WR given our depth and success drafting at the position. Even at the league minimum for Wheaton I’d rather see them developing Coates, Rogers, and Bryant. Plus, Wheaton departing may bring us an extra pick in the next draft.

  • Paddy

    He seemed to not be in sync this season, but I expect Bryant to leave too. Just too many personal mistakes and Cobi is coming on strong

  • Ahmad

    Unlike most people, I’m not totally opposed to bringing Wheaton back. A one year team-friendly prove it deal would be acceptable for me. Let him rebuild his value and then proceed from there.

    He already knows the offense and has been productive when healthy. So with a (hopefully) clean bill of health in 2017, let’s see what he can do.

  • Michael Conrad

    Here is my take what was the shoulder problem does he need an operation. I think Hamilton and Rogers lack average NFL speed but maybe Rogers is quick enough to be a fair slot receiver.. We have know idea about Bryant and the bad thing is he does not either one puff and he is done. DHB may have used up his nine lives. Sammie Coats is well we will see in the upcoming weeks what he is made of so if Wheaton wants to say around cheap I’m all for it.

  • RickM

    That’s pretty much the prototype response for any free agent. ‘I’d like to stay and hopefully something can be worked out. But it’s a business.’ Similar to most fans, I think Marcus has caught his last pass for us. If he’s healthy I think he’ll get between $3 and $4 Million a season on the open market. Those 45 receptions in 2015 for over 17 yards a catch will get the attention of several teams. And age-wise, he’s in his prime.

  • VaDave

    His shoulder has got to be messed up. This has been going on since mini camp and probably would have been on IR if not for the Bryant episode. As for Coates, I have an ugly feeling he is where he is going to be for the rest of the season, and we will have to wait for next year to see if he is damaged goods.

  • VaDave

    Spot on. “I want to stay for $400,000”. Or maybe the $4-$5mil looks a lot better. Decisions, decisions….It a shame because he seem like a good guy. Loved his show with Wolfley. Oh well, sooner or later, they all got to go.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I really like Wheaton as he has a good head on his shoulders and has talent. Too bad about this year because they really could have used him. The thing is for the Steelers to sign him they would essentially be giving up on Bryant.

    Then consider other teams, GB and Arizona and countless others. He could truly help them out. Some team is bound to overpay. Good for him. He deserves it.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Am I the only one who like wheaton being on this team next yr true he’s injury prone it seems but I just don’t want him going to the Patriots/ravens/Bengals/kc

  • RickM

    Agree, he did seem a nice guy.

    To draw a bit of a comparison, both Marvin Jones and Marcus Wheaton missed one of their final 3 years with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh respectfully. In their two healthy years: Jones had 116 catches for over 1,500 yards; Wheaton had 97 catches for over 1,400 yards. Marvin Jones got $8 Million a year from Detroit in free agency this past off-season. I’m not suggesting Wheaton will score money like that. But he’ll have no problem finding interested teams, provided his shoulder has been taken care of.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Just got finished commenting to see you said the same thing I also said he was a missing piece to the puzzle but deleted it to make brief by the way I think green is the last piece to the puzzle once him and Ben get their timing together angeles gel

  • Kelly Walker

    Wheaton is no Sanders. Not even close.

  • Kelly Walker

    Chances are wherever he signs it will be for 1 year. He lost a lot of money this year. His agent will likely tell him to find a good position on with a good QB on a trial 1 year and bust your hump and expect a big payday in 2018.

  • Kelly Walker

    After his 2016 campaign I doubt he gets the Steelers a compensatory pick at all. Maybe a 7th if there are enough comp picks left at that point. I was hoping he would have a home run season and help the Steelers win a SB and a contract that would net the Steelers a 4th rnd pick, but that all went out the window a long time ago.

  • Kelly Walker

    No way Bryant goes unless he gets busted again. He still has 2 years at $500k. They really miss him and with such a low cap hit the only way he goes is if it is a trade for a really good CB or OLB. I don’t see anyone trading a good player for one that is one piss test away from being out of the NFL. Bring him back and help spread the defense for 2 more years and then let him walk.

  • Brian Miller

    In other news, water is wet and the sun is hot…I mean, what do we expect him to say?

  • dany

    true. but anything over that, he’s gone

  • T3xassteelers

    Yeah.. Kinda think he’d wanna test his luck with another team. But maybe since he knows our system, he’d stay here. Who knows…

  • Applebite

    Hate to see it happening, but, he’s gone after the season. And with the pick of Ayers and Hamilton playing well, I just don’t see him on the roster next year.

  • Rocksolid20

    Seems we thought we were loaded at WR to begin this year too ?!

  • Steve Johnson

    “Say Whaaat!”
    Naw, time for a change, not enough production to resign him. Time for the Steelers to move on. Besides, he never really connected with #7, often injured as well. I think he realizes he will not get that much money on the open market next March.

  • RickM

    Why would he be interested in signing a team-friendly prove it deal when there will be other interest out there? We really have to start recognizing what free agency is. It is a business opportunity for the player.

    This guy caught 97 passes for 1,400 yards in the two years before he got his shoulder hurt. The shoulder will be fixed and other teams will be interested in that kind of production. As fans, we have to start realizing that we don’t control a 32-team marketplace. Wheaton will tell the Steelers to go whistle if we offer him a cheap, one-year prove it deal…and that’s exactly what he should do. The only qualifier would be if the shoulder cannot be fixed and that’s highly unlikely. And if that’s the case we shouldn’t even offer him anything.

  • kjacksonpgh

    As stated below I do not believe Wheaton will not return next season, There are to many receiver less teams that would be willing to sign him for more than we could pay him. We parted ways with Wallace then Sanders since that seems to be one of the positions the Steelers seem to be successful at evaluating talent. Also a position because of the talent evaluation we do seem to have depth. Bryant will return ( hopefully with a better outlook on life ) and with Rogers and a healed Coates should make us a formidable offense moving forward.

  • LucasY59

    Manny never had a very good season while he was with the Steelers (thats why he didnt get that big of a deal with Denver 3yr 15mil) and then obviously outplayed that contract (which got him a 3 yr 33mil extension) *part of what got him the 1st 3 yr deal was that there was some evidence of talent (which is why he was able to have good production in Denver) but it was also unproven (despite chances to be a big time WR like AB with the Steelers *basically his last 2 seasons with the team he had just as good of a chance of having AB like production (as AB) but didnt produce)

    Denvers D won Sanders a SB ring

    and I dont think Sanders plays as well as he did in Denver if he is #2 to Brown in Pittsburgh (I do think he wouldve helped against Denver since AB was out for that game, but it starts getting really hypothetical)

    and like Kelly Walker mentioned I dont think Wheaton is as tallented as Sanders (both showed some talent with the Steelers, but neither were all that great while with the team)

    I think Wheat could have some success with a different team, but I would be very surprised if he had a 1000+ yd season no matter where he goes (and most likely will have to take a one yr “prove it” deal in FA after this season, since he finished it with disappointing production in a contract yr and ending the season on IR)

  • LucasY59

    re-signing for a 1 yr deal would (most likely) only hurt his value even more, there is a good chance he would drop to #5 (or 6) WR if Bryant returns and that would mean game day inactive (since he doesnt contribute on STs)

  • LucasY59

    In addition to signing with at team with a decent QB he also has to find a team where he wouldnt get burried in the depth chart (like he is with the Steelers)

  • LucasY59

    Agree the only way Bryant isnt with the Steelers is if he doesnt get reinstated from suspension (which allows the Steelers to keep his rights until the 2 yrs remaining are fullfilled AKA he plays in Pittsburgh or he doesnt play anywhere)

    in two yrs they will have Coates and Bryant as possible FAs (definitely a situation where only one can be kept, and that would most likely be the guy with out the off field issues)

  • LucasY59

    I agree that Wheat could get around 3-4mil, but I think its a one yr “prove it” deal (which definitely takes him out of the re-signing with Pittsburgh scenario)

  • T3xassteelers

    Interesting dilemma then… Haha

  • Ryan Alderman

    See, I agree!! Bryant is no guarantee for next season obviously, Heyward-Bey NEVER was a great option, though I like him on special teams and for depth, and E. Rogers being annointed confounds me to this point based on production. Coates remains largely unproven, too, sorry, but if pushed I would say great speed but still raw, pretty so-so hands even before the injury. Honestly I’d be surprised if they DIDN’T draft a WR early and would be happy if they retained Wheaton under a reasonable contract.

  • Ryan Alderman


  • Ryan Alderman

    Well said!

  • SteelerFanInMD

    The only way I see Wheaton coming back next year is if no one signs him and Steelers have a rash of injuries at WR again.

  • Craig M

    Good read, only I think Rogers is a lock at slot.

  • Steelers12

    he will only come back of he accepts minimal and i think the Chargers or Bills will offer him a decent amount of money

  • Thomas

    He would be great depth at slot WR, but I wouldn’t be shocked if someone needing WRs offers him 6 million a year and he leaves.

  • Thomas

    No. We would have lost Brown and been in far worse of a situation offensively.

  • Dionyus

    I wish you good luck Marcus W, and may you end up with a Quarterback whom’s willing to throw you decent passes.

  • RickM

    I think it’ll depend on the shoulder injury. We really don’t know what it is. If it’s fairly common and easily repaired through surgery and re-hab, I can see him getting a modest multi-year deal. 97 catches and 1,400 yards in two years for some teams will be quite attractive. But if there is any doubt about the shoulder everything changes.

    If he is deemed healthy, it’ll also depend on the other FA receivers available. If there’s a glut, his value will drop. If there are few potential No. 2 receivers available his value will increase. If the health is in any way sketchy, I agree a short-term prove-it deal will be likely. If teams are confident in the shoulder, he’ll get a longer deal from someone.

  • Shane Mitchell

    If his shoulder problem is fixed resigning him is a no brainer, because he can play every WR position and can run every route, Eli Rogers can only play the slot and is slow compared to Wheaton, Coates has been trying to learn to run more than 3 routes since college, he doesnt even try to add any deception to his routes and as such he will never be more than a #4 wr. They can likely resign him now at a value price, to not do it would be a mistake.

  • J.

    Don’t take this the wrong way but your daft Sanders would have been a beast as the #2. Had the Steelers been able to resign him they would be looking at 2 1000 yard receivers every season and Brown wouldn’t be making complaints about how someone needs to step up as the #2 WR.

  • steelburg

    That’s a bogus statement IMO. Hindsight is 20/20 it’s easy to say that with how Sanders has performed since leaving the Steelers. But look at both players in there first 4 years with the team they were essentially the same player IMO. Sanders finished with 54 more receptions 522 more yards and 3 more tds. But if you look at Wheaton not playing a ton his rookie year due to injury and if you look at him not playing this year due to injury it’s easy to predict that he would have had better numbers then Sanders while with the team. Sanders had the fortune of having his best year with the team when he was set to hit free agency. If your looking at it right now yes your right Sanders is the better player but if you look at both 4 year post draft they are similar players. If Wheaton puts him puts himself in a good position with what team he picks meaning a team with a good QB look for him to have similar success to Sanders IMO.

  • Kelly Walker

    You act as if Sanders wasn’t playing through injury issues most of his time here. His feet caused him to miss a lot of practice and playing time early on. He played through a lot more than you seem to remember and he didn’t drop as many passes as Wheaton.

  • Ryan Alderman

    I do agree that the chances of Wheaton being with the Steelers next season are slim and that some other team will probably throw more money at him than the Steelers are willing to pay. I would be happy if they could retain him, however, even if for the short-term. I do like Rogers in the slot but need to see more on a consistent basis first, much more.

  • Ryan Alderman

    That’s where I disagree as I have seen nothing from Hamilton or Ayers that would make me comfortable losing a proven No. 3 (least when he’s healthy). And my reasons stated above regarding the other WRs on the team further my point.

  • steelburg

    Never said that. All I said is that they would have had similar numbers with the team had both played the same amount of games. Sanders did battle through some injuries but out of a possible 64 games he played in 56. Wheaton played in 47. That’s a 9 game difference had Wheaton played in the same amount of games as Sanders, or if he wasn’t put on IR this year they would have had similar numbers in a 4 year span.

  • LucasY59

    Why didnt he have a 1000 yd season when he was with the Steelers…?

  • MP34

    I hate to say it, but he fits the mold of the Patriot WRs… smaller, quicker, interchangeable, with injury issues. I’d see him getting a 2 year, 6 mil deal there to prove himself.

  • J.

    He was just gettign to the point of breaking out. I know a lot of people feel like he should have been there already but not all players develop at the same rate he stays with the Steelers and continues to break out just like he did in Denver.

  • Eric Whyuwannaknow

    I didn’t think we were loaded at WR this year. I did see lots of potential. Wheaton’s injury didn’t help, neither did Bryant being gone for the season due to his issues and I also wasn’t sold on Coates as most ppl were because of his drops going all the way back to Auburn. I was hopeful at best. I do see next year being better because guys were getting opportunities that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.