The Pittsburgh Steelers made a surprising transaction on Thursday as they released veteran tight end Matt Spaeth and signed rookie free agent tight end Mandel Dixon to take his place on the 90-man roster.
Spaeth was reportedly released with the failed physical designation after he couldn’t fully recover from offseason knee surgery. The Steelers former third-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft was scheduled to earn $1 million in 2016, the final year of his contract.
Spaeth was in his second stint with the Steelers as he had played two years with the Chicago Bears after signing with them as an unrestricted free agent following the 2010 season. During his career in Pittsburgh, Spaeth played in 92 regular season games and caught 42 passes for 342 yards and 7 touchdowns.
With Spaeth now out of the picture, Xavier Grimble and David Johnson figure to battle during training camp for the third tight end spot on the roster behind Ladarius Green and Jesse James. Green, who was signed to a four-year, $20 million contract during the offseason, has yet to practice with the Steelers after having surgery on his ankle after the 2015 season ended.
As for Dixon, he went undrafted this year out of Tulsa and was invited by the Dallas Cowboys to the participate in their rookie mini camp. In his two seasons at Tulsa he cauight 10 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Via Steelers.com, Kevin Colbert issued a statement confirming Spaeth had not fully recovered from offseason knee surgery.