When the Pittsburgh Steelers signed tight end Ladarius Green to a four-year, $20 million free agent contract last March the hope was that they had acquired a Green Ferrari. However, due to Green only being able to play in six games during the 2016 regular season due to ankle and concussion issues, on the surface it appears right now that the Steelers acquired themselves a green lemon.
During a Wednesday morning interview on DVE Radio, Steelers team president Art Rooney II was asked if the team will reassess their process in which they determine the physical fitness of free agents moving forward in light of what happened this past season with Green.
“We’re always trying to make sure we have as much information as we can when you go into that process, but unfortunately it’s not perfect and sometimes the information we get in terms of the medical records from the prior team, things like that, are not quite what you would hope for,” Rooney said. “So, to the extent that we can get more information on players were evaluating, we’ll try to and do it.
“I think in this situation there may not have been any medical records that could have shed any more light on how this was going to progress and he [Green] was dealing with different injuries over that course throughout the season, really. And so, it was unfortunate for him, unfortunate for us that he just couldn’t get healthy enough. And we saw a couple of flashes there in a few games of what his potential is and so we’ll just have to evaluate him here in the offseason and see where he is.”
So, in light of everything that has happened thus far with Green, are the Steelers still committed to trying to make it work with him moving forward?
“I think we’ve got to get through more medical clearances from the doctors and those kind of evaluations to see where he is,” Rooney said Wednesday.
Much like the comments that Rooney made Tuesday during his talk with the Pittsburgh media, it’s evident that the Steelers team president isn’t quite ready to commit to Green being part of the 2017 team and you can certainly understand why. Green is scheduled to earn $5 million in 2017 and that’s quite a bit of money to commit to a player who might be more susceptible to concussions than other players moving forward because of his history with such an injury.
It’s clear that the Steelers won’t make a quick decision in regard to Green’s future in Pittsburgh and I speculate such a decision won’t be made until long after the 2017 NFL Draft. In the meantime, however, not only will the Steelers closely evaluate Green’s medical evaluations, they’ll also likely reexamine their process of determining the health of future free agents they might be interested in signing.