The Pittsburgh Steelers finally signed Hakeem Butler after a couple of week’s of speculation they would do so. https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2023/05/16/steelers-sign-hakeem-butler/ Butler enters a crowded wide receiver room in Pittsburgh. The assumption is that he most likely will compete for the slot position, making the Steelers slot receiver battle a whole lot more interesting.
Right now the plan would appear to be Diontae Johnson, and George Pickens as the outside receivers, with Allen Robinson in the slot. Robinson is the big bodied athlete this team has wanted at that position for some time. He can be an affective blocker in this “impose their will” style of offense the Steelers are planning to employ. This sounds great in theory, but there is one small problem. Allen Robinson may in fact be well past his prime. His last two seasons have been disappointing, injury riddled campaigns. It’s not out of the question to think an over thirty receiver with injury issues might not be the answer the Steelers are looking for.
If not Robinson, the next in line would be mystery man Calvin Austin. He of course missed the entire 2022 season with a foot injury. Call us crazy, but a 5’7”, 170 pound player does not seem to fit the mold of what the Steelers want to be going forward. Not to mention Austin’s number one asset is speed, and he is coming off a pretty serious foot injury.
So we have a potentially shot Allen Robinson, and an out of place Calvin Austin. Enter the newly signed Hakeem Butler into the mix. At 6’6” and 230 pounds, Butler certainly has the size to be s physical slot receiver. He also has that 4.48 speed which could make him the big play threat this team sorely needs.
Now Butler is not without his warts. This is a player who could barley crack an NFL lineup despite being a size/speed phenomenon. There are questions about his hands, and his route running ability. All that said, Hakeem Butler is very much in the running for a position on this team. He is coming off a very successful stint in the XFL for what it’s worth. Butler logged 600 yards and 6 touchdowns for the St. Louis Battlehawks.
At the end of the day, the amount of three receiver sets the Steelers play might not be all that substantial. The drafting of Darnell Washington could lead to an overwhelming number of twelve personnel packages. Still, the battle for who wins the Steelers slot receiver position will be one of the more fascinating battles of training camp.