The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Tight end Xavier Grimble has played his last down in Pittsburgh.
Explanation: The Steelers entered the 2019 season, having lost Jesse James in free agency, with Xavier Grimble as their number two tight end. The fourth-year player had served as a number three up to this point in his career, and had not looked the part as a number two so far. Yesterday, they officially acquired tight end Nick Vannett and placed Grimble on the Reserve/Injured List.
It was already a foregone conclusion that 2019 would be Grimble’s last year in Pittsburgh. Now that he is on the Reserve/Injured List, it’s almost assured that he is not going to play another snap. While he would be eligible to be reactivated, they don’t have to, assuming he would be healthy enough.
The only reason that other players under similar circumstances in the past have been activated was because of injuries, so as long as Vance McDonald, Vannett, and Zach Gentry stay healthy, there should be no concern. Gentry, the rookie, made his NFL debut on Sunday and figures to slowly get involved as the season moves along. Once that happens, Grimble’s spot is gone.
With McDonald chronically injured, Gentry still very raw, and Vannett not even under contract beyond this season, it would be foolish to rule anything out concerning Grimble, who has been here longer than any other tight end on the roster.
The Steelers clearly like him as a player and believe he is a good blocker who has more to offer as a receiver, should it become necessary for him to enter that role. He will probably be cheap as an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
And he is still eligible to play the final five games of this season. While Vannett is now in-house, it would be foolish to think he’s anything special, and it’s asking a lot of Gentry to become a meaningful contributor this year. The Steelers have a history of carrying four tight ends, so that’s not a problem, especially considering Roosevelt Nix has also been hurt.