If AB Goes, Steelers Should Take A Flyer On Pierre Garcon

Steelers could use some cheap, veteran leadership at WR

Matt Koll
February 15, 2019 - 12:58 pm
Pierre Garcon

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers offense is set for a shake-up once Antonio Brown walks out the door.

While many (including me) believe the right move for the organization is to rid themselves of this guy, there’s also a harsh reality that 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns is almost impossible to replace.

Who knows what may happen once Brown , one of the best receivers in the league, is taken out of the fold. JuJu Smith-Schuster posted #1 receiver-like numbers last year (111 receptions, 1,426 yards, 7 TD’s) and made it to his first Pro Bowl, but you have to wonder how much Smith-Schuster benefitted from having #84 on the other side drawing double teams and taking attention away from him.

What’s left behind Smith-Schuster isn’t exactly stellar, either.

Last year’s 2nd round pick James Washington never found his footing in his rookie campaign and was the subject of some good, ole-fashioned Ben Roethlisberger criticism on 93.7 The Fan after he didn’t haul in a long ball against the Broncos. If no move is made, he’d have to step into a much bigger role after only 16 receptions last year.

Ryan Switzer’s team-friendly contract doesn’t run out until 2020 and although he seemed to catch the eye of Ben Roethlisberger maybe more than expected this past season, he still only ended up with 30 catches.

Justin Hunter and Eli Rogers are now unrestricted free agents. Rogers seemed to be a Ben favorite when healthy and I think he’d be the only one of the two worth signing back on maybe a one-year deal.

This is all to say I think the Steelers should sign now free agent wide receiver Pierre Garcon.

Here’s why.

  1. Garcon spent time in Indianapolis, Washington and San Francisco, racking up three seasons of over 940 yards receiving.
      
  2. He’s shown leadership skills, especially later in his career. He was mentored by Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison in Indy and has shown the ability to actually work well with his fellow receivers and help bring them along like rookie WR Dante Pettis. Amazing concept. We all know this team could use some leadership.
     
  3. The Steelers are left in a similar situation as in 2011 when the Steelers had a rapidly-aging Hines Ward and a bunch of young receiver behind him in Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. Ward retired the next season, Mike Wallace left the year after that and Sanders the year after that. Remember the veteran receiver they brought in as stabilization among all the youth? Jericho Cotchery. A guy who was a little younger (29) than Garcon is now at 32, but put up similar numbers with the Jets before coming to Pittsburgh. Garcon could be another Jericho Cotchery.
     
  4. Garcon is coming off a couple injury-riddled seasons, which you’d think is a huge concern for a player in his latter years. But, I look at it as a positive. There’s less tread on those tires having only played 8 games in each of the past two seasons. Plus, you’d think that would drive his price down as it’s viewed as more of a risk to sign him after injury at his age.
     
  5. While there are some other, maybe more flashy, receiver options available in free agency like Golden Tate, Randall Cobb and Tyrell Williams, I think Garcon would be cheaper and as long as he’s healthy and fresh, effective enough for this receiver group that just needs another piece.  

Pierre Garcon certainly is not going replace AB. In my opinion, the responsibility to keep the receiver position a strength of the team largely relies on JuJu to maintain his production without Brown.

But what the Steelers need is leadership for all the young receivers they’re now sure to be left with and depth at the position.

Pierre Garcon adds both of those things at most likely a pretty cheap price.

I think he’s worth taking a flyer on for a year or two until Washington, Rogers or whoever else the Steelers may draft can develop. With the way the Steelers draft at the position, you shouldn’t need him long either.

Garcon would be a talented stop-gap.