It is sad being a Pittsburgh fan and realizing your number one receiver isn’t coming back to “wow” us with his ability in the fall. Antonio Brown and Steelers President Art Rooney II recently met on Tuesday February 19th and had made the unanimous decision that it was finally time to part ways. Wherever Brown lands up, there will always be a bittersweet feeling to it. The good being of course how talented he was on the field. The bad correlates to his off the field issues and his attitude. Overall, JuJu seems very capable of taking over the number one position, but who would actually replace Antonio Brown? Normally, the Steelers will take a wide receiver young buck and train him. Let’s assume just for the sake of the argument that they don’t do that this year. What if they decide to add a veteran free agent to fill his spot? Before we get to the top ten, there are a few honorable mentions that I have to include. They are as followed;
Jamison Crowder – Washington Redskins
Mike Wallace – Philadelphia Eagles
Cole Beasley – Dallas Cowboys
With the honorable mentions listed above we now move onto the real deal. Each receiver will be listed with the last team they were associated with along with their stats in the description and of course why they should take Brown’s place in Pittsburgh. There are ten free agent wide receivers that I believe would do well being added to the team when Antonio Brown leaves. Let’s find out who made the cut shall we?
#10 Randall Cobb – Green Bay Packers
Randall Cobb and the rest of the Green Bay Packers team were shall we say disappointing this season. Cobb was constantly injured in 2018, and even when he was on the field lost a lot of receptions to rookies St. Brown and Valdes-Scantling. He ended his 2018 season with 38 receptions, 383 yards and three touchdowns. Going into free agency, super the Steelers picked him up and put him in the lineup? Would he be good? Would he be bad? I would honestly see as Cobb as a slot receiver helping when needed while JuJu and Washington handle the outsides. Cobb would probably rotate with Switzer or Rogers (depending on who would play first). It’s not the most spectacular signing in my opinion, but it would open up some doors for Cobb to prove that his bad performance was a fluke in the 2018 season.
#9 Chris Hogan – New England Patriots
Hogan takes the number nine spot on the ranking. Chris Hogan was one of the many receivers involved in the Patriots lineup. He recorded 35 receptions on the year with 532 yards and three touchdowns. It wasn’t the most successful year for Hogan as New England traded for former Cleveland wide receiver Josh Gordon and he dominated the field along with Edelman and Gronkowski. There were many other mouths to feed in New England as you had Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson in the lineup as well. Taking him from a team that used him when needed to a team that would use him a lot would improve his overall talents at the position. Hogan would learn a lot of the playbook instead of just certain individual plays. Hogan in my mind would be a good decision and taking a key receiver from a rival team always brings a smile to my face.
#8 Devin Funchess – Carolina Panthers
It is very crazy to believe that at one point Funchess looked to be the number one receiver for the Panthers. Sadly, running back Christian McCaffrey not only dominated in the running game, but in the passing game as well. You also added rookie D.J. Moore from the draft along with other receivers; Torrey Smith, Curtis Samuel and Jarius Wright (not to mention tight end Greg Olsen as well). A lot of mouths to feed means that Funchess got lost in the shuffle with the crumbling of the Panthers team in the 2018 season. He finished the season with 44 receptions, 549 yards and four touchdowns. Adding Funchess to the Steelers might help him find the pieces he left behind in 2017 when he did well. Only time and imagination will tell.
#7 Donte Moncrief – Jacksonville Jaguars
With the Jacksonville team going down a slide of despair, its hard to imagine any player on that roster setting foot in Pittsburgh. Donte Moncrief however, became a bit of a beacon for a very dark situationed team like Jacksonville. Moncrief on the year finished with 48 receptions, 668 yards and three touchdowns. Adding a receiver in a struggling market would do nothing but hopefully boost results for Pittsburgh. Moncrief has provided us with some spectacular plays over the years from Indianapolis and Jacksonville. I don’t doubt that he add some excitement to the Pittsburgh Steelers as well.
#6 Demaryius Thomas – Houston Texans
Probably one of the biggest trade flops in the 2018 season came at the expense of wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Thomas had played for the Denver Broncos since 2010 and was selected to four Pro Bowls during his time there. With the addition of Courtland Sutton, Denver decided to trade Thomas to the Texans. He did not fit well there as he just had 23 receptions for 275 yards and two touchdowns. His stats for the whole season come out to 59 receptions, 677 yards and five touchdowns. He was then released by Houston following the season. So why Pittsburgh? There is just something about Thomas that makes me feel like he could be a big Pittsburgh guy and a decent number two receiver alongside JuJu. If the Steelers were smart were smart they would at least consider it.
#5 John Brown – Baltimore Ravens
John Brown’s biggest quality he has is his speed. Brown has burned our corners in many matchups in the past. Now you can make the easy excuse and say our secondary is ass and move on from it. However, people seem to forget just how fast Brown is. Over the 2018 season with the Ravens, Brown has racked up 42 receptions, 715 yards and five touchdowns. Now let us imagine Big Ben throwing a huge throw down the field to him. I would love to see someone try to catch him. Unless your name is Tyreek Hill you aren’t catching him. It also doesn’t help that Brown did most of his damage when Flacco was the quarterback instead of Lamar Jackson. Let us at least see what would happen if you lose one Brown and gain another.
#4 Robby Anderson – New York Jets
I bet a lot of you didn’t even think Anderson would be on this list, let alone so high on it. Anderson has had his issues off the field and it would be interesting to see how letting go of a wide receiver with some off the field issues like Antonio Brown and picking up a wide receiver who also has some off the field issues in Robby Anderson would work out for the locker room. If you look past that though Anderson would be a perfect candidate for some Steelers football. This season he posted 50 receptions for 752 yards and six touchdowns. Let’s also not forget last year he was a top receiver option as he had 63 receptions for 941 yards and seven touchdowns. Anderson has the skill set, speed and competitive aggression needed to help this Steelers team out by replacing Brown.
#3 Golden Tate – Philadelphia Eagles
This selection to me is based off of one thing; creativity. The Eagles thought they could be creative with Tate, but sadly he didn’t turn out to be as explosive as he was in Detroit. On the season, he accumulated 74 receptions, 795 yards and four touchdowns. It was truly a disappointment for Tate in 2018. However, 2019 could hold some bright moments if Tate is picked up by the Steelers. Now that Todd Haley is gone in Pittsburgh, the playbook has widened and gotten more creative when looking back on this season. Tate is a player that can be used for just about anything an almost “Swiss army knife” if you will. Putting him on the field would definitely add a sense of the doubt to the defense as to what will happen next.
#2 Adam Humphries – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Humphries in my mind would be the ultimate underdog pick to replace Brown on the Steelers. Adam Humphries was definitely the number two receiver behind Mike Evans in Tampa Bay, so his scheme wouldn’t be changing that much as we would probably take over JuJu’s number two position as he would move up and take Brown’s. Humphries put up some good numbers in the 2018 season. He had 76 receptions, 816 yards and five touchdowns. With a good offensive coordinator and playbook at the helm, I bet these numbers would increase for Humphries. What would also increase is his ability to learn and adapt if necessary which he has had to do all season going from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Jameis Winston and back and forth. He has the ability level and a field general sense of how to operate in the field and he would be a huge addition when considering replacing Antonio Brown.
#1 Dez Bryant – New Orleans Saints
This would be a the ultimate pairing. Dez Bryant and the Steelers coming together to tear the house down on their opponents. The same thing I said about Robby Anderson can Ben said here with Dez Bryant. I would just multiply the amount of drama that Bryant caused. I know replacing a diva wide receiver with another diva wide receiver doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I believe Bryant has earned a shot at redemption on the field. I thought he finally achieved this when he signed with the Saints, but he sadly tore his Achilles in practice and never made it on the field to play in a game for the Saints. I say that’s enough for me to pack up and head to another team and which team would be better than the Steelers. They could use him like they used Brown last year and I believe he and JuJu could hopefully co-exist. I would personally just love to see this happen so Steelers please make this happen before he’s too old to play anymore.