This time of year is very odd in the NFL. Veterans with skill and past success get released for strange reasons. Not unlike when the Steelers dropped LeGarrette Blount late in the year because he left the field early. This year Kelvin Benjamin gets dropped from the Bills after wearing out his welcome, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Justin Hunter just hurt is shoulder on what appeared to be a separation while diving for an overthrown ball in the end zone, early in the game this past weekend. Now that he is on the Injured Reserve list, the Steelers have a need for a tall, speedy Z receiver. This year the Steelers have had little to no production from Hunter, or their 2nd round pick James Washington. Their production as the 3rd receiver in the Z spot, has been the worst production for an outside receiver in decades. Hunter and Washington combined for 11 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. Did I mention that that was their COMBINED production? This is not what the Steelers expect from the Z receiver, who is supposed to stretch the field to pull bracket coverage away from Antonio Brown.
Benjamin, this year, was cut after racking up 353 yards on 23 receptions with a touchdown. The Steelers would dream for a receiver with that type of production this season at the Z. Let alone get it from a 6’5″ vertical leaping gazelle who is deceptively faster than his 4.61 40 yard dash at the combine.
With a need for a Z receiver, and just after losing one of theirs for the year, this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. With the $14.4M Le’Veon Bell decided to give back to the Steelers, they can easily pay Kelvin’s remaining $2M in salary this season on a waiver claim. No need to wait for him to clear waivers, and compete with the rest of the league to attain his services.
With no free agent options as a viable upgrade, and even with Eli Rogers getting healthy. None of them have the talent, the ceiling, or past success that Kelvin has enjoyed in the league. The Steelers haven’t been this lucky at having a talent available for a glaring need since Joe Haden was cut by the Browns. Don’t wait, this is a chance to get better, and Kelvin Benjamin is the Z receiver that can transform this offense into a juggernaut, capable of going deep into the playoffs.