Ryan Switzer is was awful when healthy in 2019, but here’s why he’s guaranteed to make the 53-man roster this year for the Steelers.
The decision by the Steelers coaching staff to stick with Ryan Switzer for so long has been more than a head-scratcher. Pittsburgh traded with the Raiders for the former 4th round pick to be a return specialist for them, but he has been anything but that.
The Steelers have never really been a team to have terrific return men. Though they have had brief stints with specialists like Antwaan Randle El and Stephon Logan (combining for just five years in Pittsburgh), the Steelers have had more than their fair share of bad return men.
Not so long ago, Pittsburgh’s kick returners consisted of lumbering players like Najeh Davenport, Carey Davis, and Gary Russell – the three of them averaging in at over 225 pounds. Remarkable, Switzer wasn’t much more efficient as a kick returner then they were.
In 2018, Switzer was a bit disappointing. Though he averaged a respectable 8.4 yards per punt return, his 20.2 yards per kick return and 7.0 yards per catch on offense were quite underwhelming. However, his 2019 production was embarrassing.
Though he didn’t play a full sesaon because of injuries, Switzer managed a disgraceful 3.4 yards per reception, 3.6 yards per punt return, and 18.4 yards per kick return. All of this essentially makes him one of the most replaceable players in the league.
Unfortunately, Ryan Switzer isn’t going anywhere.
Despite his remarkable struggles on both offense and special teams, Switzer is good friends with Ben Roethlisberger, and that’s all it really comes down to. Switzer was one of three players seen working out with Ben in the recent video he posted showing off his repaired elbow and new haircut.
Because Roethlisberger has a good relationship with Switzer, it practically guaranteed his roster spot for at least another season. Switzer is a player that potentially could have made the position regardless. The Steelers locks at wide receiver are JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, and Chase Claypool. After that, Deon Cain and Switzer are fighting for the 5th and 6th roster spots at the position (if Pittsburgh indeed chooses to keep 6 receivers this year).
Though the trade for Switzer came with very little risk (a 5th and 6th round pick swap), perhaps it’s time to give up on the experiment. Switzer was one of the league’s worst return men in 2019 and his 3.4 yards per reception was lower than the Pittsburgh yards per carry on the ground.
Switzer is a likely guy and a fan favorite to many, but in the grand scheme of things, it comes down to winning football games. He hasn’t proven to be an asset on offense or special teams in his two years with the Steelers. However, because of his relationship with Roethlisberger, Switzer isn’t going anywhere.