The Pittsburgh Steelers did the expected when they signed tackle Zach Banner to a new contract after the fifth-year veteran won the starting right tackle job last season, even if he tore his ACL at the end of his first start. What was somewhat less predictable was the deal he signed.
Pittsburgh ultimately inked him to a two-year contract paying him close to $5 million per season. Given his injury and lack of starting experience, many were expecting him to sign a one-year deal for much less than that. After all, he signed for less than the restricted free agent tender amount last year, and since then he’s played 59 snaps.
Earlier today, he told his hosts on The PM Team on 93.7 The Fan that there were multiple other suitors, however, including teams in the AFC, even the AFC North, so they weren’t wholly without competition for his services.
Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped people from commenting on the size of his deal and questioning whether he can really be a full-time starter. He was asked how he would respond to those people.
“My response to them is, turn on the tape when I did play. Turn on—oh wait, you can’t turn on the camp tape, but turn on the tape when I’m going up against the best defensive end in the league, and that’s T.J. Watt. Turn on the tape that’s going against the best d-tackles in the league in [Stephon] Tuitt and Cam [Heyward]”.
“my second response”, he went on, “would be, they’re not the ones who decided. Mr. Rooney did. Kevin Colbert did. Coach Tomlin did. And they know more football than any of us. So, at the same time, they’re not the one that write my checks, [but] they’re the ones that buy the tickets in the stands, and I want to make them proud”.
That’s a very good sentiment to leave off of from Banner, who has really embraced the city, the team, and the fan base. For years, he has talked about how his experiences with the Steelers revitalized his love of football and everything that has come along with it.
Now, he finally has the opportunity to make all of his professional goals a reality. He’s under contract, and making some money now—he will receive close to $5 million this season, with a $3.25 million signing bonus. The next step is re-winning his starting job, which the team obviously believes he’s capable of doing, and from there, the rest of the story will write itself.