Steelers suddenly have major questions at wideout

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have watched three wide receivers sign with other teams in the span of a day. Now their depth at the position has to be a concern.

With JuJu Smith-Schuster signing with the Chiefs, James Washington heading to the Cowboys and Ray-Ray McCloud getting a lucrative deal from the 49ers, the Steelers have questions to address at wide receiver.

Those three alone accounted for 691 yards of offense for Pittsburgh in 2021, and that’s accounting for the injury that ended Smith-Schuster’s season after just five games.

The five players on the roster behind starters Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson combined for six catches for 35 yards.

Steelers depth chart at wide receiver for 2022

  • Diontae Johnson
  • Chase Claypool
  • Cody White
  • Anthony Miller
  • Steven Sims
  • Rico Bussey
  • Tyler Vaughns

On the plus side, Pittsburgh should be able to depend on Claypool and Johnson to lead the receiving attack. In 2021, Johnson had 107 catches for 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns, topping the team in all categories. Claypool came through with his second 800-yard season in two years as a pro.

That pair will be expected to give the starting quarterback, whether Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins, decent options this season.

There just isn’t much to talk about behind them.

Bussey and Vaughns are practice squad players who have yet to appear in an NFL game. Sims is another practice squad guy, though he did catch 61 passes over two years with Washington. White’s contributions are almost exclusively on special teams.

Pittsburgh just signed former Patriots return man Gunner Olszewski to replace McCloud as a returner. His history as a receiver includes nine catches for 127 yards over three seasons so he’s not expected to do that much when the offense is on the field.

Miller is the only one from that group the Steelers could reasonably expect to contribute, especially because he played with Trubisky in Chicago. He averaged 2.9 catches and 33.3 yards per game in three years with the Bears and could be a weapon in the slot.

When it comes down to it, Pittsburgh needs to add a veteran receiver or two to the mix before the season unless they want to live or die by the availability and production of Johnson and Claypool.

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