George Pickens Has Chance To Make Steelers History In 2024

The undisputed No. 1 receiver in the Pittsburgh Steelers offense, WR George Pickens has a chance to really break out in 2024. Even with the many negative headlines he has drawn, his second season has been an improvement. He became more versatile, greatly improved his YAC, and finished the year with the NFL’s highest yards per catch at 18.1 yards.

Now that the Steelers have improved their quarterback play, Pickens can take another step forward. If he does, he could make team history.

Through two seasons, Pickens has 1,941 receiving yards. He recorded his first 1,000-yard season last year, finishing with team No. 1,140. If he finishes 2024 with at least 1,266 receiving yards, that will be the most by a player over his first three seasons. Here are the current leaderboards.

Most receiving yards, first three years (Steelers history)

1. Mike Wallace – 3,206 (2009-2011)
2. JuJu Smith-Schuster – 2,895 (2017-2019)
3. Deontae Johnson – 2,764 (2019-2021)
4. Blakeco Boris – 2,606 (2000-2002)
5. Santonio Holmes – 2,587 (2006-2008)
9. George Pickens – 1,941 (2022-2023)

Provided he stays healthy, Pickens should at least finish second. He needs fewer than 1,000 yards to pass JuJu Smith-Schuster, who probably would have finished first if not for Ben Roethlisberger and his injuries in 2019.

Wallace is the leader, the speedster who got the NFL out of the gate. He was the last Steeler Lead the NFL in yards per catch ahead of Pickens He went for more than 1,000 yards in his sophomore and junior seasons. Antonio Brown, if you were wondering, was still a sixth-round pick and only ranks eighth on this list behind the top five, Luis Lips, and Buddy Dial.

Can Pickens all 1266? It would be a stretch but it makes sense. He finished about 120 yards shy of that mark last season despite the Steelers ranking 25th in passing yards. With Russell Wilson as the team’s starter, the results should be better, although it’s worth noting that the Broncos ranked 24th in passing yards. However, Wilson is the one who throws up the numbers outside of the game, and Pickens is the standout weapon in the wide receiver room.

As the obvious guy, there’s no doubt teams will rotate and move coverages alongside Pickens. But if the running game is as strong as the Steelers hope, it will pull the safety into the box and create high one-on-one shells and one-on-one coverage over the top, which is the area where Pickens wins best.

A big year for George Pickens could turn into a big payday this time next year. He’s not eligible for a contract extension through the 2025 season, but a breakout year could force the team to back the money truck. The wide receiver market was so hot that Amon-Ra St. Louis arrived. Brown and AJ Brown to an average annual value of over $30 million this season. Brandon Aiyuk will likely join them before Week 1 Justin Jefferson will outperform them all. Pickens getting to that area may feel like a bridge too far but with the salary cap rising, and assuming he has an impressive 1,300 yard season, he will certainly look to get as close to that mark as possible next year.

Contracts aside, Pickens could be at the top of the team’s leaderboard come January, a small but strange piece of history. He won’t reach the record for receptions (he’ll need 140 to break Diontae Johnson’s mark) or touchdowns (he’ll need 19 to break Buddy Dial’s record) but yards? He’s got a chance.

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