Allen Robinson Probable offseason cut
Tue, Feb 20, 2024, 4:37 PM
The Steelers will add $10 million in 2024 cap space if Robinson is released this offseason, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic reports.
Analysis: Robinson technically has one year remaining on his contract but was always a long shot to actually see the money. That's especially true after he somehow managed to produce just 280 receiving yards and no TDs despite starting all 17 games in 2017 and playing 72 percent of Pittsburgh's snaps on offense. If Robinson does stick around, it'll be with a renegotiated contract that puts him much closer to the veteran's minimum than to his currently scheduled salary of $10 million. Even in that scenario, he's unlikely to be assured of a top-three role under new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.
Kenny Pickett Getting another shot in 2024?
Mon, Feb 19, 2024, 1:44 PM
The Steelers want to give Pickett another chance to be their starting quarterback, according to Gerry Dulac of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Analysis: The 2022 first-round pick has thrown 13 touchdown passes in 24 NFL games but went 7-5 as a starter in both of his first two pro seasons. While it's safe to say Pickett won't ever be a top quarterback, the Steelers apparently hope he can become a competent starter under new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. Dulac suggests the Steelers are unlikely to pursue QBs that definitely would expect to be starters (e.g. Justin Fields, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins) but could end up re-signing impending free agent Mason Rudolph, who replaced an injured Pickett in December and then continued to start once his teammate was medically cleared. It's certainly worth noting that not all of the Pittsburgh beat reporters are as confident as Dulac about the Steelers wanting to give Pickett another shot rather than replacing him with someone like Fields/Cousins/Wilson.
Marquez Callaway Signs deal with Pittsburgh
Wed, Jan 17, 2024, 8:15 PM
Callaway signed a reserve/future contract with the Steelers on Wednesday, Teresa Varley of the team's official website reports.
Analysis: Callaway joined the Saints' practice squad in November and he appeared in three games down the stretch with the team, failing to garner a target over 27 offensive snaps. He'll now look to impress the Steelers this offseason in an attempt to earn an active roster spot in 2024.
Denzel Mims Sticking around Pittsburgh
Wed, Jan 17, 2024, 8:03 PM
Mims signed a reserve/future contract with the Steelers on Wednesday, Teresa Varley of the team's official website reports.
Analysis: Mims joined Pittsburgh's practice unit in October, failing to appear in a game during the 2023 campaign. The wide receiver will now stick around for the offseason and attempt to crack the team's initial 53-man roster ahead of the 2024 season.
Pat Freiermuth Productive in season-ending defeat
Mon, Jan 15, 2024, 8:56 PM
Freiermuth brought in five of eight targets for 76 yards in the Steelers' 31-17 wild-card loss to the Bills on Monday afternoon. He also fumbled once but did not give up possession.
Analysis: Freiermuth was the surprise leader in receiving yards and also shared the team lead in receptions for the Steelers, with Mason Rudolph frequently turning to the big tight end for quick-hitting passes. Freiermuth also boasted the longest catch of the day for Pittsburgh, a 33-yard first-quarter grab that ended with the third-year pro fumbling the ball and seeing it seemingly recovered by the Bills' Christian Benford, only to have both the on-field and replay officials rule that Benford didn't secure possession inbounds. Freiermuth was significantly less involved as a receiver across his 12 regular-season games in 2023 after recording at least 60 catches in his first two campaigns, posting a 32-308-2 line on 47 targets. However, Freiermuth finished the campaign with a 23-248-0 tally over the final seven regular-season contests, a span that notably began with the first game following offensive coordinator Matt Canada's firing.
Diontae Johnson Finds end zone in playoff loss
Mon, Jan 15, 2024, 8:43 PM
Johnson secured four of seven targets for 48 yards and a touchdown in the Steelers' 31-17 wild-card loss to the Bills on Monday afternoon.
Analysis: Johnson put the Steelers' first points of the afternoon on the board in the second quarter with a 10-yard scoring grab, and he finished second in receptions and third in receiving yards and targets for the team in the contest. The fifth-year pro enjoyed a reasonably productive regular season despite the Steelers' unstable quarterback situation, posting a 51-717-5 line across 13 games. Johnson impressively took 10 of those 51 grabs for 20-plus yards as well, but with a cap hit of $15.8 million for next season -- the final year of his current contract -- it remains to be seen if the 2019 third-round pick will return for a sixth season with the team.
Jaylen Warren Solid numbers in playoff loss
Mon, Jan 15, 2024, 8:33 PM
Warren rushed eight times for 38 yards and brought in both targets for 16 yards in the Steelers' 31-17 wild-card loss to the Bills on Monday afternoon.
Analysis: Warren logged just four fewer carries than backfield mate Najee Harris and also matched his teammate's two receptions. Warren enjoyed an expanded role in the 2023 campaign, establishing himself as a legitimate two-way threat out of the backfield with a 149-784-4 line on the ground that he complemented with an impressive 61 receptions and 370 yards on 74 targets while seeing action in all 17 regular-season games. Warren remains under contact for 2024 season at a very reasonable $989,000 cap figure, essentially ensuring he'll be back to compete for another significant role alongside Harris.
George Pickens Tallies 65 total yards in loss
Mon, Jan 15, 2024, 8:26 PM
Pickens secured five of 11 targets for 50 yards and rushed once for 15 yards in the Steelers' 31-17 wild-card loss to the Bills on Monday afternoon. He also lost a fumble.
Analysis: Pickens had serviceable numbers overall and co-led the Steelers in receptions while setting the pace in targets. However, it was largely a frustrating afternoon, beginning with a fumble on the Steelers' 29-yard in the latter portion of the first quarter that was eventually confirmed via replay, and that led to a touchdown on Buffalo's first play after gaining possession. Pickens also was the intended receiver on Mason Rudolph's fourth-down pass with 4:53 remaining that ended in an incompletion but also included what appeared to be a missed pass interference call that would have given the Steelers new life via a first down. Pickens finished the regular season with an impressive 63-1,140-5 line across 17 games despite subpar quarterback play, so he could be in for an even bigger season in 2024 if there is more stability under center.
Mason Rudolph Solid numbers in playoff loss
Mon, Jan 15, 2024, 7:44 PM
Rudolph completed 22 of 39 passes for 229 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the Steelers' 31-17 wild-card loss to the Bills on Monday afternoon. He also rushed twice for 16 yards.
Analysis: Rudolph's final numbers were much better than what could been foreseen during a fairly disastrous first half for the Steelers as a whole. The fifth-year signal-caller threw an end-zone interception early in the second quarter to contribute to the struggles, but he was able to bounce back to lead a short five-play scoring drive he capped off with 10-yard touchdown toss to Diontae Johnson shortly before halftime. Rudolph subsequently recorded another scoring toss when he hit Calvin Austin from seven yards out early in the fourth quarter, but that would be the extent of Pittsburgh's points. Rudolph is slated to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but his solid play over the last four games, including Monday's season-ending loss, could certainly lead to the Steelers offering him an opportunity to return.
Najee Harris Stymied by Bills in loss
Mon, Jan 15, 2024, 7:31 PM
Harris rushed 12 times for 37 yards and brought in two of three targets for 15 yards in the Steelers' 31-17 wild-card loss to the Bills on Monday afternoon.
Analysis: Harris got his fair share of work despite the game script turning against the ground game fairly early. The third-year pro's quiet finish was in stark contrast to the last three games of the regular season in particular, a span in which he recorded 312 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground while adding a 5-21-0 line through the air. Looking ahead to 2024, Harris is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract after three straight 1,000-yard seasons to open his career, and a decision on picking up his fifth-year option therefore looms this spring.
Allen Robinson Suffers concussion Monday
Mon, Jan 15, 2024, 6:44 PM
Robinson was diagnosed with a concussion during Monday's wild-card loss in Buffalo, Burt Lauten of the Steelers' official site reports.
Analysis: After hitting his helmet on the turf late in the third quarter and staying down on the field for a spell, Robinson went to the locker room to be checked for a head injury. With a concussion confirmed, he'll finish his first season with the Steelers with a 34-280-0 line on 49 targets in 17 games.
Allen Robinson Getting concussion check
Mon, Jan 15, 2024, 6:05 PM
Robinson went the locker room during Monday's wild-card game at Buffalo to be evaluated for a concussion, Burt Lauten of the Steelers' official site reports.
Analysis: Robinson's helmet hit the turf late in the third quarter, and he immediately was escorted to the locker room. Assuming he's diagnosed with a concussion, he'll finish Pittsburgh's postseason opener with two catches (on three targets) for 12 yards.
Mason Rudolph Game moved to Monday
Sat, Jan 13, 2024, 11:35 AM
Rudolph and the Steelers will play their wild-card matchup against the Bills on Monday at 4:30 p.m. ET after the game was postponed Saturday due to extreme weather conditions.
Analysis: It doesn't appear as if Monday's conditions in Buffalo will be all that much better from a weather perspective, though the high gusts will be down a bit and fans attending the game should at least be out of harm's way for the most part. With the weather still a factor, expect Rudolph and the Steelers to likely play it safe and rely heavily on the duo of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren on the ground, a formula that's been working in the Steelers' last three games with Rudolph at the helm, all resulting in wins.
Connor Heyward Inconsistent in 2023
Fri, Jan 12, 2024, 3:49 PM
Heyward secured 23 of 34 targets for 167 yards while rushing once for no yards over 17 games during the 2023 season.
Analysis: Heyward had some slightly encouraging performances in the middle of the regular season, as he topped 20 receiving yards in four of five appearances when Pat Freiermuth was sidelined due to an injury. However, Heyward was held to just four receiving yards over the final four games of the season and didn't have enough of an impact to warrant fantasy consideration. While he's topped 150 receiving yards in his first two professional seasons, it seems unlikely that he'll be consistent enough to be a fantasy-relevant option in season-long formats in 2024.
Darnell Washington Underwhelms in rookie season
Fri, Jan 12, 2024, 3:40 PM
Washington secured seven of 10 targets for 61 yards over 17 games during the 2023 season.
Analysis: Washington drew solid reviews during training camp ahead of his rookie season, but he was unable to carve out much of a role in the Steelers' passing game, even with Pat Freiermuth missing five games due to an injury. Washington was on the field for 48 percent of the team's offensive snaps, but he didn't record more than 12 receiving yards in any of his appearances. Although his lack of targets was discouraging, it was a positive sign to see him carve out his fair share of playing time, and he'll look to take a step forward in 2024.
Miles Boykin Minimal production in 2023
Fri, Jan 12, 2024, 3:36 PM
Boykin secured three of four targets for 17 yards over 17 games during the 2023 season.
Analysis: Although Boykin appeared in every game during the 2023 regular season, he served mainly on special teams and didn't log double-digit receiving yards in any game. He's secured six of just eight targets for 34 yards over the past three seasons, and while he'll become a free agent during the offseason, it seems unlikely that he'll carve out a sizable role in 2024.
Calvin Austin Held in check in 2023
Fri, Jan 12, 2024, 3:31 PM
Austin secured 17 of 30 targets for 180 yards and a touchdown while rushing 11 times for 57 yards and a touchdown over 17 games in 2023.
Analysis: Austin had a relatively solid start to the season with double-digit receiving yards in each of the first four games, but he logged single-digit receiving yards in 11 of the final 13 weeks of the year and was held without a catch in five consecutive games to close out the regular season. The 24-year-old missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury, so it was encouraging to see him appear in every game in 2023. However, he'll need to get more involved in the passing game if he hopes to be a fantasy-relevant option.
Allen Robinson Limited results again in 2023
Fri, Jan 12, 2024, 3:25 PM
Robinson secured 34 of 49 targets for 280 yards over 17 games in 2023.
Analysis: Although Robinson appeared in every game this season, his decline in production continued during his first year in Pittsburgh. He averaged under 10 yards per reception for the first time in his career, and his 280 receiving yards represented a career-low mark over a full season. Part of his struggles can attributed to the Steelers' lack of offensive production for most of the year, but the 30-year-old's results have trended downward over the past three seasons. If he remains in Pittsburgh in 2024, it seems unlikely that he'd see a significant increase in production.
Najee Harris Set to face Bills on Sunday
Thu, Jan 11, 2024, 2:53 PM
Harris (knee) returned to a full practice Thursday, Teresa Varley of the Steelers' official site reports.
Analysis: Harris, who has been managing a knee issue of late, didn't practice Wednesday, but the running back's return to an uncapped session a day later indicates that his initial absence was maintenance related and paves the way for him to lead the Steelers backfield Sunday on the road against Buffalo in potentially inclement conditions. In that context, Harris could be busy in his team's playoff opener on the heels of carrying 26 times for 112 yards and a touchdown while adding five catches on as many targets for 21 yards in Pittsburgh's Week 18 win over the Ravens.
Najee Harris Sits out practice Wednesday
Wed, Jan 10, 2024, 3:22 PM
Harris (knee) didn't practice Wednesday, Teresa Varley of the Steelers' official site reports.
Analysis: Harris has been managing a knee issue since Week 14 and has been a regular on Steelers injury reports ever since. However, the running back didn't miss any games during the regular season, and his listed absence Wednesday is presumably a continuation of the Steelers' recent trend of managing his practice workload. In the Steelers' Week 18 win over the Ravens, Harris paced the team's backfield by carrying 26 times for 112 yards and a touchdown, while adding five catches on as many targets for 21 yards. At this stage, there's nothing to suggest that his availability for Sunday's playoff opener against the Bills is in any danger.