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: Should the Steelers be interested in adding Jordan Cameron in free agency?
Only Heath Miller, among the Steelers’ tight ends, is technically under contract this season, and there’s certainly reason to believe that he is in his last year, if not his second to last.
Matt Spaeth and Michael Palmer are both unrestricted free agents. Will Johnson is a restricted free agent. Rob Blanchflower is signed to a futures contract. Spaeth is by far the best of that group, but he’s already on the wrong side of 30.
Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron is young and talented and wants no part of the utter dysfunction that continues to unfold in Ohio. And the Steelers have first-hand experience watching what he can do against them in the passing game.
Imagine what levels of efficiency the Steelers offense could reach if they had a receiving tight end as talented as a player such as Cameron. In 2013, he caught 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games. And that was with Browns quarterbacks throwing him the ball. Imagine him playing with Ben Roethlisberger.
Admittedly, blocking is far from his strong suit, and he would either have to improve in that area or the Steelers would have to compensate for him more, though they do frequently use two tight end sets with Spaeth in the running game.
Of course, Cameron’s injury history—particularly his history of concussions—has been no secret, and you don’t want to buy damaged goods. But that could also come with a discount when it comes to signing a contract that could be heavily back-loaded.
Cameron will only be turning 27 in August, meaning that he’s still quite young and has time to develop his game further. Having a quarterback of Roethlisberger’s quality alone would do much for his progression as a football player, I believe. And he would have no choice but to accept a physical style of play entering a Steelers locker room. He’s certainly a free agent target worth kicking the tires on, as long as he doesn’t price himself out of Pittsburgh’s range.