Will Zach Banner really wind up being the starting right tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers when they open their 2020 season Monday night against the New York Giants? A Tuesday morning report indicates that will be the case, but head coach Mike Tomlin wouldn’t reveal if that’s the choice the team has made when he talked to the media on Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m comfortable with the right tackle prospects,” Tomlin said during his Tuesday press conference. “Like I said in recent days, it’s been a tough decision because I feel like we have two guys that are starter capable. And so that’s a good issue to have. We’ll quickly sort through that as we get through the week and formulate what’s best for us in terms of winning this football game.”
Tomlin s response was not a bit surprising and especially on the heels of the team essentially listing Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor as co-starters on the team’s first depth chart of the 2020 season that was released on Monday. Banner’s name was listed first and the word “OR” separate it from Okorafor’s name. Tomlin had hinted several days ago that that would likely be the case.
Banner and Okorafor, who was drafted selected by the Steelers in the third-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, competed during this year’s training camp for the starting right tackle spot that was manned last season by Matt Feiler, who is now the team’s starting left guard in 2020. The thought was that it would be Okorafor’s job to lose entering camp and it’s sounding like that’s maybe what transpired.
Banner, who is now in his third season with the Steelers, has primarily been used as a reported eligible offensive lineman since joining the Steelers. He’s dropped a lot of weight since arriving in Pittsburgh and looked great entering training camp this year.
Banner signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract this offseason so he has a lot to prove in 2020. If he winds up starting at right tackle for the Steelers this season and plays well, he might parlay that into a nice long-term deal next offseason with the Steelers or another team looking for a starter. Banner would obviously like to stay in Pittsburgh past the 2020 season if possible.
Whomever loses out in the battle between Banner and Okorafor will be the team’s primary backup tackle. Additionally, that player would likely be used as an eligible offensive lineman throughout the season, much like Banner has done the last few seasons.