As of this writing, the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost four players in free agency, with Bud Dupree signing with the Tennessee Titans, Mike Hilton with the Cincinnati Bengals, Matt Feiler with the Los Angeles Chargers, and Tyson Alualu with the Jacksonville Jaguars. They also released Vince Williams, and are now pursuing trade options for Steven Nelson, who is in the final year of his current contract.
In contrast, they have so far managed to re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster most recently as the headline name in addition to Chris Wormley, Cameron Sutton, Ray-Ray McCloud, and a number of exclusive rights free agents.
And the gigantic Zach Banner. While it was expected that he would re-sign with the team, what wasn’t expected was that it would be a two-year deal that was worth nearly $10 million. Even though he was coming off of an ACL injury after just one game last season, he did win the starting right tackle job just prior to that.
After signing, Banner talked with the PM Team on 93.7 The Fan, and he made it clear that this is just how it worked out with two sides who wanted to stay together, calling it a team effort, with some salary cap considerations involved.
“That was a big part of it, getting the chunk upfront”, he said of the signing bonus, for both sides. “It’s one of those situations where I want to be here. It was a mutual understanding for not only myself but the team. It just really worked out that way”.
“It was looking like a couple [years]. At first we were talking about one, and then they were talking about three and then we met in the middle and just really understood the business behind it”, he added, an interesting note, indicating the Steelers wanted an even longer deal.
“This is still an ‘earn it’ contract. This isn’t it”, Banner insisted, which to me almost suggests he preferred a one-year deal initially, though as I’ve previously written this will likely function as a one-year deal assuming he cements a starting position and earns an extension next year.
“This isn’t just something that I want to stop at”, the four-year veteran said. “I want to play for a while, but I want to play. So what’s the easiest thing for me to do, is stay home, stay where I play the best, and put the things on film that I was going to do before I was injured”.
A fourth-round draft pick back in 2017, Banner has to date logged a total of 302 offensive snaps in his career, and the commanding majority of those snaps have been as a tackle-eligible. He is still largely untested as a starting tackle. That will surely change after this season.