Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: TE Zach Gentry
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Though this won’t move the needle much (I’m sure all of you will argue that it doesn’t move the needle at all), going from Vance McDonald being a potential salary cap casualty to actually retiring improves the odds of Zach Gentry spending another year in Pittsburgh.
Since Heath Miller retired, the Steelers have tried to replace him through means other than the draft. First, they signed Ladarius Green in free agency the same year that he retired. That didn’t work out, needless to say. Then they traded for Vance McDonald in 2017, and in 2020, they signed Eric Ebron in free agency.
They haven’t used a draft pick on the position higher than the fifth round other than the third-round pick spent on Matt Spaeth in 2007 since they drafted Miller in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. And one of those fifth-round picks was Zach Gentry, brought on board in 2019.
They drafted him knowing that he would need work, having transitioned to the tight end position once he was already in college, from quarterback of all things. But the truth is that he has not offered hints of much progress in the two years since.
Granted, most of that time he has spent as a healthy scratch, but that also means he hasn’t given the team reason to dress more than two tight ends during that time. dressing three tight ends used to be a given when they had three that they trusted.
With McDonald now definitely gone, Ebron is the only sure thing at the position. They do have Kevin Rader, who had been on the practice squad, and they just added a couple more tight ends on futures deals, including Dax Raymond, so even assuming they add another tight end, for example through the draft, Gentry will have competition for the number three role.