close
close

Fittipaldo: Trade rumors ‘will resurface later in the summer’ if Roman Wilson doesn’t take on second WR role

The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the 2024 NFL Draft with a need for a WR2 opposite George Pickens. They took Michigan WR Roman Wilson in the third round, but it remains to be seen if he can step into that type of role as a rookie. He played the majority of his college snaps in the slot, and his 5,106, 186-pound frame will be something to overcome on the outside. The Steelers have the WR room filled with a bunch of guys, but the pecking order between Van Jefferson, Calvin Austin III, Scotty Miller, Quez Watkins and others will have to be resolved over the course of OTAs and in training camp.

Do they have enough at the position right now to enter the 2024 season without any other moves? That may be a question they want to answer over the course of OTAs.

“If Roman Wilson doesn’t step up and take that number two job, I think trade rumors and all this other stuff is going to come back around here later in the summer,” Steelers insider Ray Fittipaldo said via the North Short Drive podcast the Post-Gazette with Christopher. Carter.

With dwindling options on the free agent market, our Dave Bryan recently wrote that the Steelers should add a wide receiver via trade, if one is added at all. The next date that could help move the market is June 1, when teams can make post-June 1 trades to help spread cap hits between this year and next year. DK Metcalf, Courtland Sutton and perhaps some San Francisco 49ers receivers could enter the conversation again in the next month or two leading up to camp.

But that gets back to the point that Roman Wilson has a real chance to earn a major role on the team in Year 1, and he’s sounded determined to do that since he was drafted.

“I want to start and I want to be the reason we win some of these games,” Wilson said a few weeks ago via the Steel Here podcast.

He thought the Steelers would draft him at No. 51 in the second round, which lines up with reports that he was targeted had Zach Frazier been unavailable. Would the perception have changed if he ended up being taken in the second round in terms of his likelihood of becoming a first-year starter? His tape is his tape, and his college experience in the slot wouldn’t have changed, but normally a second-round pick can expect to start sooner rather than later.

Arthur Smith’s offensive system has not historically used slot receivers as much as other teams in the league, so it might not have made sense to have second-round interest in a player the Steelers consider to be a pure slot.

That said, Omar Khan said on the Jim Rome show after the draft that there is still some unfinished business in terms of finalizing the roster ahead of the season. Could that be at wide receiver, cornerback or both?

OTAs and the trading window after June 1 will provide clarity on these matters so we don’t have to wait too much longer to find out.