Now that the 2019 NFL Draft is underway, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: TE Xavier Grimble
Stock Value: Up
The Steelers offered Xavier Grimble, the fourth-year tight end, an original-round restricted free agent tender earlier this year. While it exposed him to other teams, as he was a former college free agent, the tender pays him about $2 million, which is a decent pay raise for him, and could be commensurate to his taking on a number two role at the position.
That spot opened up with Jesse James leaving in free agency, signing with the Detroit Lions on a deal that was worth about $6 million per season, which they were obviously not going to match as they are set to watch Vance McDonald perhaps have a breakout year.
With the departure of James, it was assumed that tight end would be at least some sort of a priority. They entered the third day of the draft, however, without having gotten one, and only in the fifth round did they find Zach Gentry, who still had a lot to learn about the position and may find it very hard to contribute this year.
I wrote soon after the draft that the drafting of Gentry, rather than a more likely immediate contributor, saw Grimble’s stock go up. But since then, he has survived other challenges, with the potential of the Steelers adding a veteran. They already tried to do so in putting in a waiver claim for Jordan Leggett. It’s possible that they may have also put in a waiver claim for Michael Roberts, but he is currently unable to pass a physical, so nobody is picking him up.
The point is, he made it through the spring without a major challenger being added to the mix, and he figures to keep that status entering training camp, so I think that’s worth acknowledging a rise in his stock.
Will that change in training camp? It’s certainly possible. The Steelers have been good for a trade or two per year in camp, and tight end would be a sensible place to trade for a player. But for the time being, he is the clear number two, and that’s unlikely to change between now and the end of the month.