Zach Banner pretty much announced himself two nights ago that he was re-signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers, even if it was a wholly predictable move, something to which he had alluded throughout the offseason. Having won the starting right tackle job entering his fourth season last year, he suffered a torn ACL in the opener, but after the season said that he had a great exit meeting and expected to be back.
I’m not sure many people expected him to be back on the contract that he got, however. After settling in 2020 for a one-year contract that was worth slightly less than what an original-round restricted free agent tender would have been, Banner characterized it as betting on himself.
Apparently he won, because the deal that he netted from the Steelers seems on the surface to be quite healthy under the circumstances, which I suspect will work out to a one-year, $4.775 million deal, though in actuality, it’s going on the books as a two-year deal worth $9.775 million.
Banner gets almost half of that in 2021. He has a base salary of $1.525 million, but will receive a signing bonus of $3.25 million. I say this will likely turn into a one-year deal not because I anticipate he will be leg go after one year (with a base salary of $5 million in 2022), but because I suspect he will be getting a more long-term and more lucrative deal next offseason.
That is resting under the assumption that he wins and retains a starting job throughout this season and does so at a level that is somewhere ‘above the line’. But I expect that to happen, and I think the Steelers’ deal reflects that they expect that to happen as well.
This was a contract that you give to somebody in whom you’re confident will live up to your expectations, while still knowing that he has something to prove. After all, he only has one start in his career, and he didn’t finish the game, but that’s not his fault.
Drafted in the fourth round by the Colts in 2017, he was let go and landed with the Cleveland Browns, where he did pretty much nothing as a rookie. Bouncing around further still, he was signed in the middle of training camp the following year by the Steelers.
He showed enough to make the team as the ninth lineman and a healthy scratch before being promoted a year later to an extended sixth-lineman role that saw him log more than 200 snaps. In 2020, he won a starting job, after signing just a one-year deal worth $1.75 million, while an original-round tender would have given him $2.133 million last season.
This contract clearly tells us that the Steelers view him as a starter, which I would hope is obvious. He was a starter last year, and only happenstance prevented him from starting one game. The deal means they still believe he’s the same guy with the same potential he had six months ago.