Free Agency Suddenly Feels Unfulfilling After Pittsburgh Steelers Pick Up Heyward-Bey


Oct 20, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (81) is unable to catch a pass while defended by Denver Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (45) during the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were cruising right along during the first few weeks of free agency picking players and filling wholes in a very methodical and effective way – without overpaying and without having to restructure half the roster’s contracts to do so.  But, then Emmanuel Sanders left for the Broncos.  And, then Jerricho Cotchery left for the Panthers.  Suddenly the wide receiving core consisted of only Antonio Brown and a couple second year guys who totaled eight grabs and very little opportunity from their coach in 2013.

The Steelers picked up Lance Moore, who makes quite a bit of sense in my book.  At the very least he will be a very effective slot receiver – just as effective (if not more) than Cotchery.  They weren’t done there.  On Wednesday, the Steelers signed former Oakland Raider, Indianapolis Colt, and first round selection (7th overall in 2009) Darrius Heyward-Bey.  Bey is a tall and fast receiver – the two things coveted by most offenses.  Bey has also heavily underachieved since entering the league.  He is plagued by the dropsies and is ranked fairly poorly in catching efficiency.

The Steelers were on cruise control riding down that offseason highway headed towards Draft Town, USA.  But like riding down the road and seeing that Treasure Island Trinket Stand between Philly and NYC, the Steelers front office couldn’t help themselves and purchased the equivalent of a fake Rolex watch in Heyward-Bey.  He looks like a good receiver, he swaggers like a good receiver, but he really isn’t quite a good receiver.  Would anyone be surprised after the Steelers just bargained shopped just a day before one of the worst corners in the league?  Talk about two steps back.

But Heyward-Bey adds depth to a very depleted receiving core.

That depends on your definition of ‘depth.’  Depth implies that Bey is not good enough to start.  Stating that you’re comfortable with him coming in as depth also implies that Bey would be a solid contributor when stepping onto the field.  (For perspective – LeGarrette Blount is good depth)  I think he’s far from either of those and has a lot to prove in my eyes.  Currently, he is Limas Sweed, Mike Wallace, and Plaxico Burress (2nd tour) all wrapped up into one.  Sure he’s playing for the league minimum practically and still keeps the team under the cap, but if I were Ben Roethlisberger, I would be putting a dent in a concrete wall by how many times I would be banging my head up against it.  Here Mr. Franchise QB, throw to a receiver with a catching efficiency of 15% according to ProFootball Focus.

I am far from sold on Bey, and this move from the Steelers – even though it ‘fills’ a hole in the receiving depth chart – sours all the good work they’ve done up to this point (ignoring the Brice McCain signing).  I wouldn’t expect the Bey signing to steer the team away from pursuing a receiver in the first round or subsequent rounds.  However, the idea of collecting as many positional players as possible then hoping that one or two land like it’s sifting sand looking for that diamond doesn’t sit well with me.

Maybe the Steelers feel bad after the last of their 2009 draft class left the team this offseason and felt they needed someone from that year.

Maybe Bey will surprise me and many other critics.  I’ll gladly eat crow if he does.