When it comes to former members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, one must admit, mileage may vary in terms of retained interest level. Marcus Gilbert, however, is a player who put in eight years of starting experience for the team between 2011, when he was drafted, and 2018, a season marked with major injuries and after which he was dealt to the Arizona Cardinals for a late sixth-round pick.
Fate threw the former Gator yet another ugly twist, as he suffered a torn ACL during the offseason before he even got a chance to play for the Cardinals. And his contract had just run out. Why would a team be interested in a 32-year-old tackle who has had major injuries for several years in a row?
It helps when that player is Gilbert, who has when healthy been one of the top right tackles in the NFL, even without a Pro Bowl to show for it, and who has consistently been a strong locker room presence, especially in the Cardinals’ room, bringing what he learned from Pittsburgh along with him.
That is why Arizona did right by him, re-signing him on a one-year deal, albeit one that is very team-friendly. It is essentially a veteran-minimum contract that includes incentives that could make it worth up to $3.75 million.
Basically, this is an opportunity for him to show that he can not only stay healthy, but play well through the series of injuries that he has been through in recent years. While a number of tackles in recent years have been proving that you can play the position well into your 30s, like Andrew Whitworth and Joe Staley, injuries make it a lot harder to do.
Still, it’s low risk for the Cardinals and a good opportunity for Gilbert, so it’s good to see. Arizona doesn’t lose much of anything, outside of a small guarantee, if he can’t get back on the field. He continues to rehab from his torn ACL, so it’s even a possibility that he could start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform List.
Re-signing Gilbert also ensures that he will have full medical access to the team’s facilities throughout his recovery. While team facilities are largely shut down right now due to the coronavirus, they remain open to medical staff and players who are rehabbing from injuries, and other essential personnel.
If it all works out, then the former Steeler could earn himself a nice little contract for himself next offseason. It likely would only be a short-term deal, given his history and his age, perhaps even one year, but the earning potential would be higher. He does deserve the opportunity, and I wish him well.