How the Steelers will Replace Antonio Brown

Published : April 5, 2019

Depending on what you thought about Antonio Brown– will dictate whether you like this article.
Being in Lancaster is synonymous with being a fan of the Pittsburg Steelers, or the Philadelphia Eagles.

In recent years, however, watching the Steelers is kind of like watching a soap opera starring athletes rather than actors. From Le’Veon Bell sitting out for a full year and moving to the Raiders to Ryan Shazier’s freak injury and ending with Antonio Brown leaving the team this past offseason, the Steelers have struggled with their stars. While James Conner filled in remarkably and the defense played well without its middle linebacker, at some point a team cannot take the type of losses that the Steelers have had over the past few years.

Rebuilding With The Draft Or Free Agency?

With that said, the Pittsburg Steelers were a game away from a playoff birth last year on the shoulders of Big Ben and his connection with one of the best Wide Receivers in the game, Antonio Brown. So how will Roethlisberger cope without his favorite target and what will the Steelers do to replace him? Will the answer be found in the draft with the 20th pick or in free agency? Will the Steelers turn to Juju Smith-Schuster to be their number one and fill in the other slots with later picks? In a quarterback dominated league, even with a top five guy like Big Ben, you need a true number 1 receiver.

Good Juju?

The most likely scenario is for Juju Smith-Schuster to move into the number one role. Smith-Schuster was the 2019 team MVP with 111 catches and over 1,400 yards. He can stretch the field and still go over the middle as a possession receiver. Playing as a number two to Brown’s number one definitely opened the field up a little bit more and Smith-Schuster saw lower quality cornerbacks with Brown on the field, but his upward trajectory shows that he could be a capable number one in 2019.

Unless an unlikely trade happens and with the lack of number one wide receivers available in free agency, the only other option the Steelers have is to find Brown’s replacement in the draft. DK Metcalf from Ole Miss had an incredible combine, but his play on the field in college left a lot to be desired. He will also probably be taken before the Steelers pick at twenty. It is more likely that Kelvin Harmon from NC State, a precise route runner with great hands and field-stretching speed, will be available for the Steelers. He would be a great value at a position of need and he will probably be available then.

The truth is, the Steelers will probably pick defense at twenty, focus their free agency signings on lower end value, and be content with an improving Juju Smith-Schuster as their number one. It is not the fun choice, but with a team poised at every other position to make a run, it is the wise choice. Roethlisberger only has a couple of years at best, the defense is not getting younger, and there is a feeling that Coach Tomlin is losing this team a little more each year. They should never have lost Antonio Brown in the first place, but since they did, the Steelers will focus on what they have and hope it is enough to get them back to the Promised Land. This is the Pittsburg Steelers after all.

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