Player: Xavier Grimble
Position: Tight End
Free Agent Status: Exclusive Rights
2016 Salary Cap Hit: $450,000
2016 Season Breakdown:
The Steelers signed former undrafted free agent tight end Xavier Gimble to their practice squad for the 2015 season, and he got a lot of positive word of mouth over the course of the year from his teammates and coaches. That proved to be more than just hot air when he made the 53-man roster in 2016.
Part of the reason he made it was the fact that Ladarius Green started the year on the PUP list, but the reality is that they kept Grimble on the roster after he was activated, and they had five games after that during which they could have tried to move him to the practice squad if they wanted. They didn’t.
Grimble is an intriguing prospect with a good combination of size and athleticism that looks the part on the field. While he has a bit of a hands issue, he has the capability of making some impressive catches, and he has also shown the capacity to block well, a role that he could potentially develop into further.
His role varied over the course of the year, but he did manage to snag two touchdowns, both of them coming from 20 or more yards out, and both of them impressive efforts.
Free Agency Outlook:
This year will be an interesting one for Xavier Grimble in terms of his future with the Steelers, which could depend on a confluence of factors, and, frankly, how they feel about him. While they were fairly quick to get him back under contract as a second-year exclusive rights player, that is a mere formality, though their decision to carry him on the roster all year does show that they like him. Ben Roethlisberger even talked about him a couple of times.
If you have been following our Combine coverage, you will no doubt be aware that the team has been showing pretty substantial interest in the tight end position scheduled to be drafted in a matter of weeks at this point during the 2017 NFL Draft. It is realistic that they take one during the first two days.
Should that be the case, it will obviously be more difficult for Grimble to retain a spot on the roster, but that still depends on how the rest of the group shakes out. For one thing, they have not even re-signed David Johnson yet, although I strongly believe that they should, and hope that they will.
The bigger matzo ball in the soup is the future of Green, of course, who was to be their big free agent acquisition last year, but has only been able to contribute for a window of six games. The team has expressed some optimism that he will be in their plans, but that remains to be seen.
At worst, however, Grimble will still have a place on the practice squad, but that is provided that another team doesn’t pick him up. He is an intriguing player, which is why he kicked around the league for a while, and he made some positive contributions last year.