3 factors will prove why Steelers already have a WR2 on their roster

Fans want Pittsburgh to make a move for a wide receiver, but these three factors will prove why the WR2 is already on the roster.
Pittsburgh Steelers OTA Offseason Workout
Pittsburgh Steelers OTA Offseason Workout / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

After revamping the quarterback position in with Russell Wilson and Justin Fields in 2024, the talk of the Steelers offseason surrounded the wide receiver position. When Diontae Johnson was traded to the Panthers, Pittsburgh's roster looked extremely thin at the position outside of George Pickens.

Trade rumors had already been swirling prior to the trade, and they ramped up after the Steelers sent their starting wide receiver packing. However, Omar Khan and the front office didn't do much to address the position during the 2024 offseason.

Pittsburgh reportedly inquired about a trade for a wide receiver with the 49ers during the 2024 NFL Draft, but the asking price was too far off for a player like Deebo Samuel. Though they haven't landed a proven difference-maker at the receiver position this offseason, fans shouldn't be worried.

Believe it or not, there's a good chance that the Steelers already have a WR2 on their roster, and these three factors could prove that this is the case.

1. Improved play-calling on the Steelers

When Matt Canada was calling the shots over the past three seasons, it was easy to see how Pittsburgh's offense paled in comparison to those around the league -- particularly when it came to the passing game. While innovative offensive coordinators ran nifty route concepts, Canada was stuck in the past.

The former OC limited the risk of turning the ball over at the expense of creating big plays and scoring points (which was obviously a poor trade-off). Arthur Smith isn't guaranteed to turn things around right away, and he's a run-first OC. However, there's no question that he will be an upgrade over what they had.

In 2019 and 2020 as the OC of the Titans, Smith's passing game was one of the most efficient in the NFL. With the weight of head coaching responsibilities off his shoulders, he can focus on what he does best. The massive uptick in efficiency in the passing game will prove why the Steelers can make it work with what they have at the WR position.

2. Improved quarterback play for the Steelers

Along with improved play-calling, the Pittsburgh Steelers should be getting vastly improved quarterback play in 2024. Fans were quick to shoo an aging Ben Roethlisberger out the door only to be met by Kenny Pickett -- a low-upside, Day 2 draft prospect who had no business being drafted at pick 20.

Pickett -- along with Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph -- couldn't sustain drives and put points on the board routinely. Enter Russell Wilson and Justin Fields. While the new duo of quarterbacks have a losing record over the past three seasons, they have shown significantly more splash and play-making ability.

Neither option is guaranteed to be a long-term answer, but they are at least competent enough to help the wide receivers look significantly better in 2024.

3. Talented wide receivers will get the chance to prove themselves

The third factor that will prove the Steelers already have a WR2 on their roster is the young, unproven talent the team already possesses. Forget about signing a washed-up player like Michael Thomas or trading for an unspectacular veteran like Courtland Sutton. This team has a few gifted receivers not named George Pickens who just need an opportunity to prove themselves.

I had a late second-round grade on former Michigan WR Roman Wilson thanks to his well-rounded play and soft, natural hands. Wilson was arguably the best receiver at the Senior Bowl in 2024 and was thought to be one of the biggest steals of the NFL Draft. He deserves a shot to prove what he can offer.

Meanwhile, I'm not giving up on Calvin Austin III. I had a third-round grade on the former Memphis product, but his rookie season was claimed by a foot injury and he drew a short straw playing with Kenny Pickett and Matt Canada in his first action on the NFL field in 2023.

Wilson and Austin may not be long-term solutions, but collectively, they could prove to be efficient options in the receiving game thanks to their athletic talent and skill sets. They just need the opportunity to shine, and they may have that with a new QB and OC in Pittsburgh.