Hunter has signed with the Steelers, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. A 2013 second-round selection, Hunter never emerged as a consistent threat in Tennessee, ultimately getting released at the end of last preseason. He then caught on with a receiver-needy Buffalo squad, yet caught only 10 passes for 189 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games. Hunter's size (6-foot-4, 203 pounds) could make him an occasional deep-ball/red-zone target, but he'll probably have to fight for a roster spot as a depth receiver in Pittsburgh.
Hunter recorded a 64-yard reception in Sunday's loss to the Jets. With the game already well in hand, Hunter got behind the Jets' secondary and was wide open for rookie quarterback Cardale Jones. Had the ball not been slightly under thrown, Hunter would have likely waltzed into the the end zone. Hunter has yet to live up to his second-round billing and caught just 10 passes this season, but he enters free agency having converted those 10 catches into four scores and three receptions of 20 or more yards.
Hunter caught one of four passes for 22 yards in Sunday's loss to Oakland. Hunter's four targets and 38 offensive snaps were his highest sums since Week 8. It didn't make much of a difference in terms of production, however. Since coming to Buffalo - whether he's been on the field for 50 snaps or 15, he's never topped two catches or 30 yards. He's scored four times, so there's value in that, but a potential increase in usage is more cosmetic than useful at this point.
Hunter, who scored his fourth touchdown of the season Sunday, could be in line for more playing time, BuffaloBills.com reports. "I think so," said coach Rex Ryan when asked about it Monday. With Sammy Watkins back, Hunter's playing time mostly depends on the health of Robert Woods, who may be out another week or two with a knee injury. Still, Hunter's been in this position before and has yet to catch more than two balls in a game all season, so when Ryan implies more playing time, that might just mean a sprinkle more catches and targets for the league's leanest passing attack.
Hunter caught his only target Sunday for a 16-yard TD reception, which proved to be the game-winning score in the Bills' win over Jacksonville. Incredibly, Hunter has just seven catches all season and four have gone for scores. His role isn't likely to increase going forward -- he only saw 13 offensive snaps Sunday -- especially with Sammy Watkins back in action, but if you're in a league where touchdowns are heavily weighted, Hunter's size and leaping ability should allow him to get a couple more before the season closes.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
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