Steelers offseason positional primer: Pass catching options for 2024

Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers, Steelers / Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
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The Steelers season is officially over, and with the offseason now the focus of this team, I wanted to take some time to break down this team position by position. This will be both a primer for who will stay or go in the offseason as well as who could be added. This series will go position by position as we head toward the new league year.

We continue with the pass catchers this time, and despite a wealth of options here, the passing game was putrid last year. A lot of that had to do with the bad quarterback play as well as a poor scheme under Matt Canada. That said, here is a breakdown of the receivers and tight ends and what we can expect from the groups in the offseason.

Steelers pass catcher room assessment

The pass catchers are a group of good names on paper that didn’t perform up to that level this season (for the aforementioned reasons above). George Pickens was the highlight of the group and played in every game this season. He saw his yards, receptions, and touchdowns all improve in addition to his yards after the catch.

That said his overall season was still a bit of a disappointment. Expectations were sky-high for him after another strong offseason, but he had quite a few stretches where he was phased out of the game. At times, this caused some immaturity to come out in response.

Diontae Johnson struggled with an early season injury but came back and produced. He found the endzone five times, shaking the proverbial 2022 monkey off his back, and was his usual self with sharp routes. Like Pickens, his stats were a bit of a letdown overall.

Arguably the biggest disappointment was Pat Freiermuth. While the third-year tight end was injured for a good chunk of the year, the Steelers aversion to the middle of the field was killer to his stats. For a player likely wanting an extension, his down year couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Calvin Austin never lived up to his hype either, but he provided the occasional spark and big play. Allen Robinson was as advertised, a bulky slot weapon with little upside besides possession catches. Darnell Washington was lumbering and a non-factor in the passing game. Arguably the next best weapon outside of the top three targets (and Jaylen Warren, who was second on the team in catches) was Connor Heyward.