The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will the Steelers add a veteran tight end who will be on the 53-man roster in September?
It was reported that the Steelers put in a waiver claim on Jordan Leggett after he was released by the Jets. They were one of five teams to submit a waiver claim for him, and obviously they didn’t have the earliest one, so they didn’t get him.
The fact that they did so would seem to imply that they are interested in adding a tight end to this group that has more experience than what they currently have, though it’s not as though they have never claimed a player, or tried to claim a player, of a lesser magnitude previously.
Whether or not they want to and whether or not they do, however, are different questions, and whether or not a player acquired ends up making the 53-man roster is distinct as well. At least as it currently stands, they don’t have much cap space at all to accommodate any type of contract of significance, for one thing.
While they are happy with Vance McDonald at the top of their depth chart, the loss of Jesse James in free agency did leave a hole for the Steelers, and they seem less than entirely convince that Xavier Grimble and rookie fifth-round pick Zach Gentry as a pair can sufficiently fill that hole.
Removing a four-year veteran with starting experience and significant playing time and replacing him with somebody who has been a career number three into that role—and subsequently replacing him with a player who is still learning the position—is not an ideal situation, but also not necessarily one that they can’t play through.
Their tight ends in 2012 behind Heath Miller weren’t exactly murderer’s row. David Johnson was on injured reserve (suffering an injury in the preseason, which hindered their ability to find an adequate replacement. Their other two tight ends were Leonard Pope and the rookie David Paulson, whom you may have just remembered.