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: Down
Reasoning: A player who was drafted in 2019 known to be a project, Zach Gentry showed no tangible progress during his second season in the NFL, once again spending an abundant amount of time as a healthy scratch before suffering a season-ending knee injury—and being a healthy scratch in a season in which they dressed six defensive linemen, with one playing on the kick coverage unit.
There should be a fairly good chance that the Steelers use a pick within the first four rounds of the NFL Draft this year on a tight end. If that should come to pass, it would be the first time that they do so since 2007, when they drafted Matt Spaeth in the third round.
Even with Vance McDonald’s retirement, any addition to the tight end position would put Zach Gentry’s roster spot under duress, because the reality is that he has done virtually nothing in two years in the league.
The former Michigan quarterback has logged 69 total offensive snaps in six career games, the vast majority of the games unaccounted for being when he was a gameday inactive, though as mentioned, he did end this past season injured.
Only 20 of those offensive snaps came this past season over a two-game span when they had availability issues at tight end, at the end of which is when his own injury occurred. In his place, they brought up Kevin Rader from the practice squad, who frankly looked the part more.
Gentry sort of got a stamped ticket through his first two seasons because of the learning curve the Steelers understood he would be working under. While it might be going too far to say that he had a guaranteed roster spot, it is certainly the case that he will have to work harder than in either of his first two seasons to keep his job this Summer, assuming that he makes it that far into the offseason. Being 6’8” and 265 pounds doesn’t do you much good if you can’t block or catch.