On Thursday the Cleveland Browns signed former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver/kick returner Ryan Switzer to the team’s practice squad.
The Browns had Switzer in for a visit earlier this week following a tryout last week. His signing comes in the wake of Browns wide receiver/kick returner JoJo Natson suffering a season ending injury this past Sunday against Washington. Switzer joins a wide receiver group that includes Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Rashard Higgins and KhaDarel Hodge.
Switzer was cut by the Steelers just prior to the start of the regular season when it became clear that Ray-Ray McCloud was a better kick returner.
Even so, it was a mild surprise that the Steelers didn’t retain him for the 2020 season, especially after he earned rave reviews in training camp.
Clearly, Switzer believed his star was on the rise. In July he indicated that he could be the next Julian Edelman (or Wes Welker, or Jamison Crowder, or Cole Beasley). NFL Twitter found this hilarious and suggested—rightly, as it turns out—that he needed to worry about retaining his roster spot first.
Switzer might now have a chance to face his old team twice in 2020, during Week Six at Heinz Field and/or Week 17 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
Ryan Switzer’s Career with the Cowboys, Steelers
Switzer was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2017 draft (133rd overall, out of North Carolina), but lasted just one season in Dallas, catching six passes for 41 yards as a rookie.
In April 2018 he was traded to the Raiders for defensive lineman Jihad Ward, but he never played for the Raiders, who turned around and traded Switzer and a sixth-round draft pick to the Steelers in exchange for a 2019 fifth-round pick.
During his two seasons in Pittsburgh, Switzer caught 44 passes for 280 yards and one touchdown. He also returned 39 kickoffs for 773 yards (19.8 yard average) and 38 punts for 281 yards (7.4 yard average). Switzer was more successful as a kick returner in Dallas, where he averaged 8.8 yards per punt return and 25 yards per kickoff return.
Ryan Switzer the Next Julian Edelman (or Wes Welker)?
As for Switzer’s boast that he has a chance to become the next Julian Edelman, well, it’s perhaps worth noting Edelman didn’t become ‘like Edelman’ until his fifth year in the NFL.
If you compare the first three years of their respective careers you find that Switzer had 50 catches for 321 yards, as compared to Edelman, who had 48 catches for 479 yards.
Welker was more productive than either, but his production didn’t escalate until his fourth season in the league. During his first three years Welker caught a total of 96 passes for 1,121 yards for the Miami Dolphins. It was only after Welker moved on to the New England Patriots that he reached his potential.
Welker spent six years with the Patriots before finishing his NFL career with the Denver Broncos (two seasons) and St. Louis Rams (one season).
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