When the Pittsburgh Steelers signed tight end Ladarius Green to a four-year, $20 million free agent contract back in March they did so with the assumption that he and his surgically repaired ankle would be ready to play come the start of the 2016 regular season. Those assumptions have now turned to disappointments as Green will now start the 2016 regular season on the team’s Reserve/PUP list and presumably not because of his ankle, but instead, because of recurring headaches that he’s reportedly been experiencing due to previous concussions he has suffered.
During a recent interview with Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Steelers team president Art Rooney II talked about the team’s prized offseason free agent acquisition and his current status.
“Look, we’re all disappointed, what can I say?” he said. “We were not expecting to be in this situation. It’s disappointing, but I don’t know that we could have figured this out back in March. Things have evolved that we didn’t expect.”
Green was obviously signed to replace retired tight end Heath Miller and now that they won’t have him on the field for at least the first six weeks of the 2016 regular season, the team will be forced to presumably lean on young tight ends Jesse James and Xavier Grimble in addition to veteran David Johnson, who was curiously signed to the roster in the middle of May.
“We were all hoping he [Green] could come in and give us some help,” Rooney said. “Losing Heath, that’s not an easy person to replace. Some of our coaches said all along it would probably take a committee to replace Heath. We just have to go with the guys we have.”
The fact that Rooney admitted the Steelers weren’t expecting Green to not be ready by the start of the regular season certainly leads one to believe that the recurring headache reports are indeed true and especially since he also noted he wasn’t sure the team could have foreseen whatever medically issues that are currently keeping the young tight end sidelined back in March when they signed him.
There have been reports stating that the Steelers were not informed by Green when they signed him that he was experiencing these suspected headaches and quickly after that there was media speculation that the organization might cut the tight end because of that and then attempt to recoup the $4.75 million signing bonus he was given as part of his deal.
With Green now safe and secure on Reserve/PUP, I doubt we’ll find out anytime soon from the Steelers organization why he was indeed placed there. Head coach Mike Tomlin continues to insist that it’s because of Green’s ankle and has refused to substantiate any claims that it’s related to recurring headaches.
Should Green not be ready to practice after sitting out the first six weeks of the regular season, you’ll really have to wonder if he’ll play at all in 2016 and if the team is disappointed now, you can only imagine how they’ll feel should that indeed wind up being the case.