The Pittsburgh Steelers signed their first outside unrestricted free agent of the 2017 offseason on Wednesday when wide receiver Justin Hunter agreed to a one-year contract. While the signing isn’t likely to be a major talking point nationally, on the surface it appears to be a low-risk one and completely understandable.
Even though most expect Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant to be reinstated in the coming weeks following his one-year suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy once again, the organization has to somewhat question his ability to remain clean moving forward.
Hunter, like Bryant, has made his living so far in the NFL with his ability to stretch the field. In fact the two players share a lot of similar receiving statistics entering the 2017 season.
Bryant has 76 catches for 1,314 yards and 14 touchdowns so far during his career while Hunter has registered 78 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. The similarities between the two players does not end with raw receiving statistics, however. In fact, Bryant has caught 19 of 54 deep pass targets for 766 yards and 8 touchdowns so far during his career while Hunter has caught 21 of 61 deep passes thrown his way for 721 yards and 8 touchdowns.
As you can see below, Bryant and Hunter also posted very similar numbers during their trips to the NFL Scouting Combine. Also, let’s not forget that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were both reportedly present for Hunter’s 2013 pro day. If that’s not enough of familiarity, Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak also knows Hunter very well being as he was the head coach for the Tennessee Titans when that organization drafted him in the second-round.
It’s yet to be seen how Hunter will ultimately fare in Pittsburgh but his Wednesday signing certainly makes a lot of sense for several reasons. Plus, he should be cheap on top of everything else.
Hunter will now be turned over to Steelers wide receivers coach Richard Mann, who is one of the best in the business when it comes to that position.
In the near future, Alex Kozora will have a full breakdown of Hunter so please be on the lookout for that.
|Career Regular Season Receiving Stats|
|Career Regular Season Deep Pass Receiving Stats|
|NFL Scouting Combine Results|
|*||Martavis Bryant||Justin Hunter|
|40 Yrd Dash||4.42||4.44|
|20 Yrd Dash||2.59||2.59|
|10 Yrd Dash||1.57||1.58|
|225 Lb. Bench Reps||16||DNP|
|Vertical Jump||39||39 1/2|
|20 Yrd Shuttle||4.15||4.33|