Now that the 2019 season is over, with a team other than ours having been crowned champion and there being much work to do to return to that status, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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 move forward.
Player: TE Nick Vannett
Stock Value: Even
It’s kind of hard to say, really, isn’t it? Nick Vannett, a four-year veteran tight end, doesn’t exactly have the most distinguished career. He spent 13 games with the Steelers last year after the team sent a fifth-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for him. And now he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent, even though, presumably, he won’t have a huge market.
Over the course of about 400 snaps, he caught 13 passes on 17 targets, gaining 128 yards with no touchdowns. He didn’t exactly distinguish himself in this area, nor was he frequently looked for. For that matter, not even Vance McDonald got many looks in the passing game.
It has to be said that the entire passing game for the Steelers last season was highly compromised because of the season-ending injury to Ben Roethlisberger. The future Hall of Fame quarterback was on injured reserve before Vannett was even on the roster, so he was catching passes from Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges.
That being the case, it’s also true that he’s never been a receiving threat. In three-plus seasons with the Seahawks, he only caught 48 passes for 463 yards with four touchdowns. His best season in terms of receiving numbers was in 2018, when he caught 29 passes for 269 yards with three touchdowns. Yet Seattle felt comfortable trading him.
The question moving forward is how the Steelers view him. He is a player whom they scouted coming out of Ohio State, and they also followed his pro career. While the impetus for trading for him was because Xavier Grimble was put on injured reserve, he is a player that they had already been keeping tabs on, and also knew he would be available in 2020.
They could have him under contract for next season before free agency even gets here, since he’s already on the roster. Do they think that highly of him, and what would it cost? He’s already cost them a fifth-round pick (he was originally a third-round pick), but sunken costs can’t effect what’s best for them in the future. He could be a serviceable number two tight end—for the right price. He did enjoy his time in Pittsburgh, at least.