The Optimist’s Take – Through 2015 And Beyond For Heath Miller

While the Pittsburgh Steelers may have gained some tangible evidence of improvement, improving their win total by three games and hosting a playoff game as a division champion for the first time in four seasons, there is no doubt that the team is far from a finished product.

No team, of course, is a finished product in the offseason. Every team loses players to free agency and retirement, and replaces them through the same free agency process, as well as the draft.

With all of the change that occurs during the offseason, it’s often difficult to predict how a particular team might fare. They may wind up holding the Lombardi trophy or the first overall draft pick when all is said and done.

In order to gain a better feel for not only the issues facing the team this year, but how those issues might play out, it’s useful to take the devil’s advocate approach. This is the optimistic side of the coin.

Question: Does Steelers tight end Heath Miller have more than one season left in the tank?

Veteran Steelers tight end Heath Miller was entering the final season of his contract in 2014 before the front office gave him a two-year extension whose primary purpose was to create additional cap space for that season.

Miller was coming off perhaps his worst season, during which he had to work through the recovery process for an ACL injury that he suffered late in the previous year. He missed the first two games, and struggled much of the year as a blocker and in gaining separation and yards after the catch as a receiver.

Thus, at the time, it was seen as unrealistic that Miller would be likely the play out the length of that contract, which lasts through the 2016 season. a similar deal was given to Troy Polamalu at the same time, and it is widely believed that he may have already played his last snap with the Steelers.

Miller, on the other hand, rebounded somewhat, and was once again the workhouse tight end that is his reputation, rarely missing a snap. His blocking took some time to come around, but he did a lot of good work in that area during the second half of the season.

As a receiver, he posted some of his best numbers, including 66 receptions for 761 yards, averaging 11.5 yards per reception, adding three touchdowns. And that is with running back Le’Veon Bell dominating the short area passing game with 83 receptions of his own.

Miller may not be the Pro Bowler that he once was, but he didn’t look like a player who was about to cross the finish line of his career either. He doesn’t quite get the yards after catch that he used to, and he struggles to block superior athletes with somewhat greater frequency, but he is still a fairly reliable player who is a source of stability for Ben Roethlisberger, and it’s by no means a foregone conclusion that 2015 has to be his last season.

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