Latest report poors ice-cold water on ideal Steelers' free-agent target

Steelers fans really wanted Tyler Boyd to join the team, but it doesn't look like he's coming to Pittsburgh.

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

If you are holding your breath that the Pittsburgh Steelers will sign Tyler Boyd, you might want to come up for air. Despite signing free agent receivers like Van Jefferson and Quez Watkins, the Steelers still have a significant void at wide receiver opposite George Pickens. Unfortunately, the latest report suggests that Boyd isn't coming to The Steel City.

During his mailbag on The Athletic, reporter Mark Kaboly answered questions about the Steelers. One reader asked if Pittsburgh and Boyd would 'eventually find some common ground.'

Kaboly thinks that this ship has sailed. Here's how he responded to the question about Boyd coming to Pittsburgh.

"I would say that it would be a long shot, at best, that the two sides come together. From what I have been told, Boyd was extremely interested in Pittsburgh at the beginning of the free-agency process, but the offer wasn’t something he was comfortable with. Boyd has at least had preliminary interest from the Chiefs, Chargers, Dolphins, Lions and 49ers. I am pretty sure the ship with the Steelers has sailed."

Mark Kaboly, via The Athletic

Boyd is widely considered among the best receivers remaining in free agency following the early wave that saw players like Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Marquise Brown, Calvin Ridley, and Curtis Samuel jumping ship to join new teams this offseason.

After trading Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers, it seemed like the Steelers were poised to make a big move at wide receiver. Instead, they signed a pair of retread players coming off a down year. Both Jefferson and Walker project, at best, as the WR3 in Pittsburgh.

If Pickens proves to be the player Pittsburgh can funnel the offense through in the receiving game, that means they are still lacking a WR2 to pair with him. But I wouldn't hit the panic button just yet.

Steelers were wise not to overpay for Tyler Boyd

There's no question that Tyler Boyd would be an upgrade over players like Van Jefferson, Calvin Austin, and Quez Watkins in Pittsburgh, but that's a pretty low bar to clear, and the Pittsburgh Steelers need to shoot a little higher.

Boyd has had an excellent NFL career, but his efficiency took a major dive when Joe Burrow went down in 2023. Interestingly, his teammate, Ja'Marr Chase, remained one of the most efficient receivers in the NFL last year.

At 29 years old, Boyd hit a career-low mark in terms of PFF grades -- ranking just 91st among 128 receivers last year. He also saw his lowest production output since his second season in 2017 when he missed six games.

Boyd still offers something as a slot receiver, but because of a lack of speed and quickness at this stage of his career, feeding him the football in the passing game is a low-upside play.

Instead of overpaying for a veteran receiver who has already seen his best days, the Steelers would be wiser to spend a Day 2 pick in a loaded WR class to revamp the position. They can get four cheap years out of a rookie receiver who could offer more explosive plays for Pittsburgh in 2024 and beyond.

I get why Pittsburgh fans are upset that Tyler Boyd no longer feels like a possibility, but a decision to sign him would have felt like a questionable financial investment from the beginning. It's best if Omar Khan allows things to play out and see where the chips fall in the NFL Draft before making an aggressive move for a player like Boyd.