2017 Offseason Positional Review – Tight End

The season might not quite be over for another couple of days, but 30 teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, have already hit offseason mode following their elimination, either prior to or during the playoffs. Pittsburgh got quite far this year, reaching the AFC Championship game for the first time since 2010

But before we get too deep into the offseason, it’s time to take a look at the Steelers’ roster as it appears to be shaping up as we look ahead to 2017.

As with almost every other team, the Steelers have already made some roster tweaks, signing several players to Reserve/Futures contracts, tenders, and other sorts of contracts, so here is a position-by-position look at how the team looks heading into the offseason.

Position: Tight End

Total Positional Figure: 4

Additions: 0

Deletions: 0

Players Retained:

Jesse James: During the first game of the 2015 season—in fact for the first half of the season—Jesse James was a healthy scratch. During the first game of the 2016 season, he didn’t come off the field, as became roughly par for the course over the span of the entire season, with the exception of the six-game period in which Ladarius Green was available.

The former fifth-round draft pick made some notable strides over the course of the season in terms of his blocking in both the running game and the passing game. He also came up with some important catches and showed gradual improvement in gaining yards after the catch, but I would hesitate to call him a quality starter just yet.

Ladarius Green: That would be Ladarius Green if things on the health front were different. It looked as though the Steelers finally got him in rhythm when he came off the PUP list due to his ankle, but a concussion knocked him out for the rest of the year. Given his concussion history, that is pretty concerning, and the team seems to be aware of that fact.

Xavier Grimble: I think that many see Xavier Grimble as a poor man’s Ladarius Green, and that might be pretty on the nose in terms of his abilities as a pass-catcher. He is more athletic than the average tight end and has made some great catches, but he has inconsistent hands. I think he has some potential as a blocker, but if the Steelers address this position in a major way, his roster spot could be threatened.

David Johnson: Seemingly an afterthought signing, David Johnson more than proved his worth to the Steelers this season as their best blocker. By the end of the year, the Steelers were nearly exclusively using him over James in 12 or 21 personnel sets, with the former including an extra lineman.

Offseason Strategy: I think it’s a no-brainer to start out with to re-sign Johnson, who was on a one-year contract. Grimble is an easy keep. Green’s situation is really up in the air and I wouldn’t expect to hear more any time soon. They may address the position high in the draft even if he checks out for the future.

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