Steelers WR Calvin Austin To Take On Increased Role

The Steelers’ receiver room is short on know commodities aside from George Pickens, but a number of in-house options will get the opportunity to serve in a more prominent capacity this season. That applies to Calvin Austin.

The 25-year-old is in line to see the largest workload of his young career to date, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes (subscription required). That come as little surprise considering Pittsburgh’s decision to trade away Diontae Johnson and release Allen Robinson. Those moves have created a pair of starting vacancies, and no veteran presence on the roster is a lock to secure one of them.

Austin was selected in the fourth round of the 2022 draft, but a foot injury cost him his entire rookie campaign. The 5-9, 162-pound speedster was healthy for the entire 2023 season, but the presence of Pickens, Johnson and Robinson limited his offensive role. Austin logged a 35% offensive snap share and made just 17 catches. The Memphis product did chip in on special teams as a punt returner, although free agent addition Cordarrelle Patterson could take on those responsibilities in 2024.

The slot is likely Austin’s primary location for offensive usage, but the same could be true (at least early in his career) of third-round rookie Roman Wilson. The Michigan product was part of a stellar receiver class in this year’s draft, and he should be able to compete for a rotational role amongst Pittsburgh’s other options – a list which includes the likes of Quez Watkins, Van Jefferson and Scotty MillerWatkins saw his new team as an opportunity to earn a first-team role, but training camp will go a long way in determining the receiver pecking order.

Keeping in line with his previous stance on the matter, Kaboly adds in a separate piece that the Steelers could still be in the market for a wideout addition. Such a move may not happen until the start of training camp, the point at which unsigned veterans often commit to a team. Pittsburgh has nearly $16MM in cap space, so the team certainly has the flexibility to bring in another experienced pass-catcher.

Regardless of whether or not that happens, though, Austin could be primed to take on a starter’s workload in 2024. Doing so would be key for him given he will be eligible for an extension after the coming season. A strong performance would help his leverage in potential contract talks in addition to providing the Steelers with needed production from the WR spot.

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