Player: Jake McGee
Position: Tight End
Free Agent Status: Exclusive Rights
2018 Salary Cap Hit: $480,000
2018 Season Breakdown:
First-year tight end Jake McGee did not get the opportunity to have a 2018 season. The 27-year-old was in his first full season with the Pittsburgh Steelers when he suffered an injury in OTAs that put him on the shelf—or rather, on injured reserve—all year.
Pittsburgh brought him in during the 2017 installment of training camp after they dealt with injuries to the tight end position after he had previously spent time in 2016 and 2017 with the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders.
Though he was brought in as just a proverbial ‘camp body’, he got opportunities in the preseason to showcase himself, and he was able to make a few highlight blocks in the games that he participated in, which drew special mention from head coach Mike Tomlin in his post-game comments on more than one occasion.
While his performance was not such a breakout effort that the team felt the need to carry him on the 53-man roster, he did spent the entire season on the practice squad in 2017 and figured to be very much in the running to make the team a year ago.
The problem, of course, is that he tore his Achilles back in May. He didn’t even make it to mandatory minicamp, let alone training camp. The Steelers did think enough of him to carry him on the injured reserve list all year as he recovered from the injury—perhaps continues to recover—but it’s unclear what comes next.
Free Agency Outlook:
McGee is an exclusive rights free agent, and if the Steelers decline to tender him to an offer prior to the start of the new league year, he will be an unrestricted free agent, meaning he would be able to sign with any team who would be interested in him.
That’s not to say that he is going to have some kind of robust market. It’s a bit hard to gauge anything, however, without knowing where he is from an injury standpoint, about nine to 10 months removed from an Achilles tear. Melanie Friedlander would know more, but a quick search indicates a recovery time average of roughly 11 months.
Surely like Eli Rogers a year ago, the Steelers will monitor him and approach him—if they remain interested—once they are comfortable with where he is physically. Should he be retained, he could compete for the number three tight end position.