Dec 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) catches a pass during warm-ups before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
One of the more intriguing positions that the Steelers will the opportunity to upgrade this offseason is the wide out. Essentially, with a quarterback like Ben, you want weapons on the edges more than anything before his window closes. Ben began his career with a trio of wide outs in Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress and a young Antwon Randle El that were probably the best Ben’s had. This then morphed into being Hines, Santonio Holmes and Nate Washington to the trio he had this past season in Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders.
The above goes to illustrate a hint towards how this offseason may be approached. First and foremost, the Steelers are fine letting wide outs walk. Randle El was the classic example has his Super Bowl heroics led to a massive overpay in Washington. Plax moved on (until now) while Hines, who was the most consistent of the bunch signed a long term deal and stuck around. Based on this history, it’s a safe bet Mike Wallace won’t return. The guy had hands like stone this season and held out for unreasonable money but’s he’s big and he’s fast. A team will sign him for more money than the Steelers can offer.
But the Steelers have always reloaded and they’ve done so in the draft. The thing is, Wallace, when healthy, as always been a 1B option and not a definitive No. 2 guy. Sanders fits the mold of a No. 3 receiver while Brown is the new Ward in the slot. Essentially, the Steelers need that bigger bodied deep threat Plax was or an insanely good all around talent like Holmes was. Those two guys? Both first round draft picks. I know people will point to Wallace’s third round draft selection but that’s still a selection where you have reasonable hope of a players success.
Moral of the story: do the Steelers use a high pick on a wide receiver in an offseason that looks like almost every position has some sort of depth need if not greater? These are the kinds of questions I’m curious to see Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin address. The draft only gives you seven players and of those seven, you can only reasonably expect 3 or 4 guys to have an impact in their first year. Can you think of just 3 positions on the Steelers that need depth/upgrade?
For that reason, I see the Steelers keeping Plax around through camp to see what he has left and to appease Ben and the Steelers make a WR their fifth round pick and hope for the best.