A number of teams are interested in recently-released Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Steve Breaston, but apparently the Pittsburgh Steelers are the front-runners to land his services, as least according to CBS Sports' Jason LaCanfora.
Breaston, a Pittsburgh-area native, worked with current Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley during his time with the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs, which gives the Steelers the edge over other interested teams, including the Cleveland Browns.
With the Steelers needing to not only replace Mike Wallace, who is likely headed elsewhere when free agency begins in March as well as add depth at the receiver position, Breaston seems to be a good—and affordable—option.
Affordability is key. Regardless of Wallace's down performance in 2012, the reason the Steelers aren't keeping him is because of how much he's set to cost this year, which could be as much as $12 million. Breaston is no Wallace, which means he will come at a much more agreeable price for the Steelers.
The Steelers don't need Breaston to be Wallace's replacement, however. Breaston would be more of a depth addition and likely used in a manner similar to Jerricho Cotchery. Wallace's true successor—a fast, big-play threat—can come via April's draft. At this point, the Steelers simply need to add bodies to their receiving corps and Breaston certainly meets that need.
Breaston has had just one season with over 1,000 receiving yards—1,006 in 2008 with the Cardinals. His best showing with the Chiefs was in 2011, when he caught 61 passes for 785 yards and scored two touchdowns.
2012 was a less successful season for Breaston, with just seven total receptions for 74 yards. He had only four starts and played a mere 263 snaps, with then-head coach Romeo Crennel accusing him of not understanding the offense enough to get significant time on the field. If that's the truth, it shouldn't be a problem in Pittsburgh, considering that Breaston is more than familiar with Haley's offensive style.
Breaston also has a background as a kick and punt returner, doing so mostly during his time in Arizona. This could result in Antonio Brown being relieved of his return duties, allowing him to focus more on being the Steelers' No. 1 wideout and protecting him from potential injury.
The biggest thing to keep in mind, should the Steelers land Breaston in the coming days or weeks, is that he's not being brought on to replace Wallace. He would simply supplement their current group of receivers rather than take up the mantle of being the team's top target. He can work both on the outside and in the slot, thus giving the Steelers another receiving option, especially while tight end Heath Miller works to return from his ACL tear, but he's not going to be on the field for every offensive snap.
With the Steelers in salary cap trouble, Breaston may wind up being the only free agent from the outside that they bring on this year. Considering that the receiver position, in particular, needs more depth, it's not a bad idea for the team to pursue him. Breaston would come at an affordable price, knows Haley's offense well and brings the added bonus of having return experience.
Signing Breaston would be both safe and smart—he's an anti-Wallace of sorts, with very low risk and very real, though not incredibly flashy, reward potential.