First the San Francisco 49ers brought in former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Donte Moncrief for a look-see. They decided to pass in favor of former Dallas Cowboys receiver Tavon Austin and former Arizona Cardinals wideout J.J. Nelson. Now Brian Costello, the New York Jets beat reporter for the New York Post, is reporting that the Jets are planning to bring in Moncrief for a workout.
The Jets are desperate for help at the position but shouldn’t expect much if they decide to sign Moncrief, at least if his brief engagement with the Steelers in 2019 is any indication.
Steelers Signed Moncrief as a Free Agent in 2019
The Steelers signed Moncrief to a two-year $9 million contract in March 2019. He had been successful with two previous NFL teams after being a third-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2014. During four seasons in Indy he played in 53 games, catching a total of 152 passes for 1,875 yards and 18 touchdowns, much of that production coming with now-retired quarterback Andrew Luck.
Then Moncrief moved on the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he caught 48 passes for 668 yards and three touchdowns in 2018 after signing a one-year prove-it deal.
But his stint with the Steelers in 2019 was remarkably awful, with a finger injury suffered in training camp perhaps playing a role. Moncrief dropped four passes in a season-opening blowout loss to the New England Patriots and was responsible for Mason Rudolph’s first career interception in a week two loss to Seattle, which got him relegated to the bench going forward, when he was active at all.
Moncrief went on to catch just one more pass for 11 yards before the Steelers waived him in November of last year.
Should the Steelers and Jets Make a Trade Involving JuJu Smith-Schuster?
Considering the need the Jets have at wide receiver—and considering the impending salary cap issues facing the Steelers in 2021—there’s a good argument to be made that the Jets should try to acquire fourth-year wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster from Pittsburgh.
Among other things, the Jets need to add offensive weapons to aid in their ongoing evaluation of third-year QB Sam Darnold, who happens to be familiar with Smith-Schuster, as they had significant success playing together at USC. And unlike the Steelers, the Jets can afford to extend Smith-Schuster’s contract.
The big question is: Would the Steelers be willing to part with Smith-Schuster prior to a season where they are a potential Super Bowl contender? And would the Jets would be willing to offer enough in trade for the Steelers to make a deal?
Donte Moncrief Remains a ‘Dead Money’ Liability for Steelers
Regardless of any of the above, Donte Moncrief remains a problem for the Steelers. He’s the team’s second-biggest ‘dead money’ liability on Pittsburgh’s salary cap, counting $1.75 million in 2020. Only former linebacker Mark Barron counts for more dead money this year, at $2.875 million. Those two players together make up more than half of the Steelers’ dead money in 2020, which totals a relatively paltry $9 million-plus.
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