The NFL’s two-day negotiating period for potential unrestricted free agents got underway earlier today and now it’s being reported that Pittsburgh Steelers unrestricted free agent tight end Jesse James has already come to terms with a different team.
According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, James has agreed to sign with the Detroit Lions. No financial details have been released yet as far as the contract James will sign with the Lions.
James, who was originally selected by the Steelers in the fifth-round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Penn State, caught 120 passes for 1,189 yards and 9 touchdowns in his four seasons in Pittsburgh.
During his career with the Steelers James was a very durable tight end and he starred 36 regular season games in total. Last season, James caught 30 passes for 423 yards and 2 touchdowns and he also saw some playing time on special teams.
Perhaps James’ most memorable play with the Steelers during his four years in Pittsburgh was his overturned catch against the New England Patriots late during the 2017 season. After first appearing as though James had made a catch and dove for a touchdown late in that contest, the call on the field was eventuality overturned via official review as it was ruled he did not survive the ground.
The free agent tight end market so far this offseason has been a lucrative one. In addition to the Baltimore Ravens signing tight end Nick Boyle last week to a three-year contract extension worth $18 million, the Cincinnati Bengals reportedly re-signed tight end C.J. Uzomah to a three-year deal worth more $18 million earlier on Monday.
When the Steelers restricted tendered tight end Xavier Grimble at the lowest level possible last week, it was a sign the team would likely lose James via free agency.
With James now signing elsewhere via free agency the Steelers current tight end depth chart for 2019 includes Vance McDonald, Grimble, Bucky Hodges, Christian Scotland-Williamson, and Kevin Rader, who was signed to a futures contract earlier in the offseason. Of that group of players, only McDonald and Grimble have played in a regular season game for the Steelers. Hodges and Scotland-Williamson, however, were both on the Steelers practice squad last season.