The New England Patriots have a new roster spot open after releasing rookie special teams contributor Ameer Speed. Bill Belichick prioritizes special teams maybe more than anyone else in the NFL, so he's liekly looking for a repalcement.
By coincidence, the perfect replacement just became available on Friday.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are releasing Gunner Olszewski. A wide receiver by technical designation only, Olszewski is predominantly a special teamer, who serves as a punt returner among other roles.
Pats fans will remember Olszewski from the first three years of his career (2019 through 2021) which he spent in Foxborough. During that time he was named first-team All-Pro in 2020, when he led the NFL in both punt return yards and yards per return.
He’s spent the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but his role has fallen off and he’s played only 8 special teams snaps so far in 2023.
Pro Football Focus has the Patriots ranked just No. 25 in special teams grade so far this season, and none of the four players who have run back punts in New England this season rank any better than 22nd among 53 graded players in punt return grade.
Olszewski also contributed on multiple special teams units when he was a Patriot, which makes him a good candidate to pick up the snaps vacated by Speed. Speed had been on the field for 51% of the available special teams snaps for the Patriots this season.
Olszewski wouldn't be a sexy signing, of course. And it's admittedly been a bad year for him in Pittsburgh (there's a reason he's being released). But he's 26 years old and only a few seasons removed from playing at a high level in New England and there's little doubt that Belichick could once again get the best out of him.
It may be frustrating when Bill overspends on special teamers, but this is a situation where it might be worth it.
Of course, whether Olszewski signs or not won't likely impact Sunday's game against the Bills. Regardless of what happens though, Patriots fans can unlock a guaranteed $200 bonus just by wagering $5 on the game on DraftKings. That full bonus pays out automatically, win or lose, so make sure you sign up through the exclusive Chowder and Champions link below to unlock the offer before it expires!
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