5 moves Steelers must make to ensure future success

Quarterback Kyle Trask #11 of the Florida Gators. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Quarterback Kyle Trask #11 of the Florida Gators. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
3 of 5
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers James Washington (13) and Diontae Johnson (18) Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Yes, I just mentioned that the Steelers must keep JuJu. After they sign him they must trade a wide receiver

After the Steelers re-sign the clear number 1 receiver on the roster they have to trade one of their wide receivers that are capable of being the 2nd option on 30 other teams in the NFL. The Steelers have to keep Claypool as he and Smith-Schuster compliment each other so well, and Mapleton could develop into a Calvin Johnson type monster on the field.

That leaves either Diontae Johnson or James Washington. Both of them could garner a mid-round draft pick. The Steelers are low on draft capital. If they acquire another mid-round draft pick they have a plethora of options coming with it. They can pair it with another pick to move up if they think a franchise player is falling in the draft. They could use it to add depth to any plethora of positions. All in the meantime the Steelers will be adding more snaps to the other receivers.

Spreading the ball around is great, yet not being able to give ample touches and game time experience is only going to hinder the development of the rest of the receiving group. Washington has the shorter contract and has played fewer snaps this season. So if they keep him they would need to replace him next season if they don’t want to retain him from free agency. Yet, his trade value would be lower than Diontae Johnson’s due to Johnson’s ability to run after the catch, and the fact that as a legitimate weapon he is still on his rookie contract for two more years. I think which one you choose to keep is going to depend on what style of offense they transition to post-Ben Roethlisberger more than anything.

Having an extra draft pick could help shore up the depth issues along the defensive line, or move up for starting-caliber offensive linemen right away. They could use a 3rd round pick on a starting-caliber running back if James Conner leaves, and they don’t have faith in Snell in the long run evidenced by the drafting of Anthony McFarland Jr. The Steelers have so much talent at the receiver spot that they wouldn’t need to replace who they trade with another starter for 2021. I expect JuJu and Claypool get the majority of the snaps in 2021. Either Johnson or Washington would be the 3rd receiver and the other would be their 4th.

They are essentially trading their 4th wide receiver for a mid-round draft pick. It is easy to replace their 4th option considering how much they like to use McCloud in the offense. They could sign an undrafted rookie, or draft a receiver in the 7th round to fill that spot, very cheaply while positioning themselves in the draft in a way to add as much youth to other spots on the roster as possible. They are as good as any team in the league at scouting receivers and they can easily find the 4th guy outside of the first 6 rounds of the draft. Furthermore, I expect less 4 WR 1 TE wide sets in the future, and this downgrades the value we have on our 4th option as well.