The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: How big of a need is the tight end position if Ladarius Green is actually healthy?
There has been a lot of writing over the course of the early days of this offseason about the Steelers and their need to a dependable tight end, something that you can very easily argue that they do not have, just a year removed from Heath Miller’s retirement.
They were hoping to salve that wound with the free agent acquisition of Ladarius Green, who represented a bit of a different style of tight end than they have been used to over the course of their history—really, a style that has only in recent years since drafting Miller in 2005 that has become more prominent.
Green’s health issues, including a concussion that kept him off the field for the last several weeks of the season and whose condition since then we still have not been updated on, has been a notable cause for concern even within the organization, as owner Art Rooney II said himself.
This has many scouring this year’s draft prospects to try to figure out who will be this year’s newest tight end for the Steelers, including seemingly all of my fellow writers here. I tend to be on the less alarmed end of the spectrum.
So I want to pose the question this way, as a hypothetical. Assuming that we knew going into free agency and the draft that the Steelers would be getting in 2017 the tight end Ladarius Green that they thought they were signing in free agency, who could be a 16-game starter and offer the big-play ability that he flashed in his six games played, how big a need is the tight end position?
In that situation, I personally don’t think there would be a need at all, with Jesse James well-suited to the number two role, David Johnson returning as a competent blocker and valuable depth, and Xavier Grimble as a bit of a wildcard. If I could know today that Green would have no health issues, I don’t think I would spend much time scouting this year’s tight end class. But, of course, that’s not the case. That’s why this is a hypothetical.