Heitritter: Gunner Olszewski is as good as gone

When the Pittsburgh Steelers signed WR/KR/PR Gunner Olszewski, they thought they were getting a proven back man who could still give them good field position in the rematch. However, that didn’t prove to be the case last season as Olszewski struggled to find his footing in Pittsburgh, missing crucial punts while misjudging on-court coverage and trying to make shots. returns it shouldn’t.

Ultimately, Olszewski lost the job back to WR Steven Sims, who provided a spark in that department for the Steelers on a few occasions, limiting Olszewski to a throw-sweeping role or acting as a blocker in strike formations. heavy staff. Olszewski had five receptions for 53 yards and eight carries for 39 yards on the season while making eight punt returns for 55 yards (6.9 YPR) and three punt returns for 46 yards (15.3 YPR), two career lows.

With the Sims now with the Texans, Olszewski looks set to return to the role back in 2023 if ST coordinator Danny Smith hands him the responsibility. However, given Olszewski’s poor performance in his first season in Pittsburgh and various factors affecting his roster spot, it would be best if the Steelers left him before the regular season started.

The Steelers now have a fairly loaded WR room in terms of potential options behind entrenched starters, having traded for Allen Robinson II and re-signed Miles Boykin this spring. Add to that the fact that they have Calvin Austin III coming back from injury and also have Anthony Miller, Hakeem Butler, Cody White and others in tow, saving sixth place WR on the roster for Olszewski, who won’t. brought nothing as a pass catcher and struggled mightily as a returner last season, seems like a misuse of a roster spot that can be used on a better pass catcher.

Olszewski recorded just 106 special teams snaps (26%) last season, including his comeback work, meaning he was not a notable contributor there and should be easily replaced . According OverTheCapwhich saves a good deal of change that can be used for mid-season moves.

Given the recent kickoff rule change to ensure all fair takes go out on the 25-yard line, the role of kick returners has only diminished for the upcoming season. This could open the door for Austin, who is going to be on this team’s roster, to become their comeback man in 2023. Austin served as a lethal punt returner, recording 29 returns. for 323 yards (11.1 YPR) in his final two seasons, including two return touchdowns. Add to that the fact that Miller has some return experience himself and is objectively a better receiver than Olszewski, and it’s hard to justify keeping the return man with his ceiling load and the options that Pittsburgh has internally.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Gunner Olszewski. He’s a retro-type player who gives his all in all facets of the game. However, there isn’t really a role for him anymore due to the additions to the roster made this offseason as well as the change rule affecting its value to the team. Don’t be surprised if Olszewski is kept and brought into training camp to push Austin and anyone else challenging for the return job. If Austin proves worthy of the role, you should expect Olszewski to get his marching papers and try to find a job elsewhere.

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