Player: Xavier Grimble
Position: Tight End
Free Agent Status: Restricted
2018 Salary Cap Hit: $630,000
2018 Season Breakdown:
It’s unfortunate that the play Xavier Grimble is best known for at this point is the fumble at the goal line against the Denver Broncos, which spilled out of the end zone for a touchback. It defined not just his season for many people but his career up to this point.
But it’s not the only thing he’s done for this team, and in fact the Steelers have kept him engaged and in the offense. He ended up playing 174 offensive snaps in the season, seeing playing time in all but one game, typically seeing between 10 to 15 snaps per game.
The Steelers typically used him in blocking situations when they went to two-tight end sets, especially when the second tight end was a tackle-eligible. Grimble is the most forceful and powerful blocker on the roster (though not the best all-around), so he can be useful in tight spaces, and it gives him some opportunities to play.
And he can contribute in the passing game, though there hasn’t been a lot of opportunities for him, nor reason to used him behind Vance McDonald and Jesse James. Just because he fumbled once while making full contact with a defender during a goal-line collision doesn’t mean it’s not in his repertoire.
He did catch six passes on the year for 86 yards. For his career, he has 22 catches for 236 yards and three touchdowns. His most productive year was his first with the Steelers, catching 11 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Free Agency Outlook:
The first point that needs to be made when it comes to Grimble and his free agency status is that he is not the only tight end on the roster who is going to be a free agent. Jesse James is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, so what happens with him could influence what happens with Grimble.
Obviously, if James ends up choosing to sign with another team—and I don’t think he will re-sign with the Steelers before free agency opens—if would make them much more likely to keep Grimble.
But would they keep him on a restricted free agent contract, especially if James re-signs? Is what he brings as a number three tight end worth somewhere close to $1.5 million? That’s a bit of a hard sell.
They could choose not to tag him, which would make him an unrestricted free agent. That would open him up to all 32 teams, but that includes the Steelers, who could re-sign him for, ideally, a veteran-minimum deal. But the last restricted free agent they didn’t tender, Terence Garvin, ended up elsewhere.