The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor is heading into free agency, as is Trai Turner.
These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Could the Steelers re-sign Zach Banner down the road on a more affordable contract?
I know, I know. This is going to be a popular one. And the Steelers don’t have much of a lengthy history in bringing back players that they have cut in the same offseason. Max Starks is a rare example, and he was much more experienced.
But let’s talk about Zach Banner anyway. And let’s start with the fact that, one way or another, the Steelers still need tackle depth, even if they believe they have their starters in Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor. Joe Haeg is the next man up, but it’s preferable to carry four, and Chaz Green and John Leglue won’t cut it.
It goes without saying that Banner’s $5 million 2022 base salary was the driving factor in their decision to release him. After two years of being the intended starter at right tackle, he only started one game, first after tearing his ACL and then after having a setback in his recovery from that injury.
Just because they decided to clear the books of Banner’s salary, however, doesn’t mean that they no longer believe he is capable of playing. And chances are he’s not going to have much of a market. Let’s say they go through the draft without adding a tackle. Do the Steelers call up Banner and say, ‘Hey, want to come back on a one-year, veteran salary benefit contract?
I know a lot of people have completely soured on him altogether, some even insisting that he’s ‘soft’ or whatever nonsense. Speaking personally, though, I would welcome his return in a reserve capacity on an affordable contract if no alternatives are brought in.