Steelers Writer Believes Team’s 2nd Pass Catcher Could Already Be on the Roster

pittsburgh steelers pat freiermuth

Getty A writer for the Pittsburgh Steelers' website believes Pat Freiermuth could be team's 2nd pass catcher

Since the Pittsburgh Steelers traded Diontae Johnson in the middle of March, a pass catcher to take his place has been seen as one of the team’s biggest needs.

The team doesn’t have a proven WR2 option on the roster and most of the top free agents have signed, leading to the expectation that they could look for their WR2 in the draft.

However,’s Dale Lolley wrote that the team’s second pass-catching option might already be on the roster.

Calling him “arguably the best tight end” quarterback Russell Wilson has played with in six years, Lolley wrote on April 12 that the Steelers’ Pat Freiermuth “is an excellent receiving threat who is just beginning to come into his own.”

Why Freiermuth Could Be the Answer

Freiermuth has a couple of things working in his favor ahead of his fourth year in the NFL: Wilson and the team’s new play caller.

“[R]egardless of what fantasy football analysts might say, new Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith doesn’t ignore the tight end position,” Lolley wrote, noting Kyle Pitts‘ 1,000-yard season as a rookie with the Atlanta Falcons and Jonnu Smith‘s 582-yard season in 2023. Last season, Pitts and Smith combined for 6 receiving touchdowns.

And Wilson has made the most of his former tight ends, according to Lolley.

“When Wilson has had a talented tight end, he’s used him, especially in the red zone,” Lolley wrote. “In fact, even when Wilson didn’t have great tight ends, he utilized them in the red zone.

“The tight end position on Wilson’s teams in his 12 seasons have averaged nearly 68 receptions for 769 yards, an average of 11.3 yards per catch,” he wrote.

Friermuth, 25, has shown that he can be a dependable option. Over his first two years in the league, he made 123 catches for 1,229 yards. His third year was a letdown — only 32 catches for 308 yards — but injuries and bad quarterback play were more to blame for that than a talent issue.

The Steelers don’t have much competition at tight end for Freiermuth, so he could soak up most of the usage.

Making Freiermuth one of the team’s top receiving options would also emulate some of the league’s top contenders.

The four teams that made the conference championship games in 2023 had Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Sam Laporta, and George Kittle on their rosters.

Each of the four players was at least the second pass-catching option on his team.

Steelers’ Pass Catching Options

Whether it is Russell Wilson or Justin Fields under center for the Steelers in 2024, it is obvious who their favorite target is going to be.

George Pickens is the clear star of the passing game after he made 63 catches for 1,140 yards in his second NFL season.

After him, the options at receiver are a lot less appealing.

The next options on the depth chart are Van Jefferson, Quez Watkins, and Calvin Austin.

Watkins caught 15 passes for 142 yards last season.

Jefferson made 20 catches for 209 yards between stints with the Rams and Falcons.

Austin has 17 catches for 180 yards in his career.

If the Steelers don’t find an option they love in the first few rounds of the NFL draft, that could make Freiermuth the choice to be the number two option in the passing game behind Pickens.

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