The Pittsburgh Steelers have released OT Zach Banner, the team announced today.
Banner was owed a base salary of $5 million this season. He logged just one offensive snap in 2021 after recovering from a torn ACL in the 2020 Week 1 opener. Banner was limited during this past year’s training camp and though he seemed to be trending in the right direction, suffered a setback and was placed on injured reserve to begin the season. When he was activated, he struggled to dress and see the field.
Pittsburgh gave him a two-year contract worth nearly $10 million last offseason. But the deal didn’t work out and the Steelers are moving on, clearing a chunk of cap space in the move. Officially, the move saves $4.175 million in cap space prior to roster displacement. Banner’s release creates a $1.625 million dead money charge for 2022.
The team re-signed Chukwuma Okorafor to a three-year extension earlier in the week and he will be the team’s starting right tackle to open the season. Veteran Joe Haeg will serve as the team’s top backup tackle and one of its most versatile linemen. He played every position except for center last year.
The Steelers could be in the market for a lower-level free agent offensive tackle or look to draft one.
Banner, 28, will have to look for a new team and continue his NFL career. Since being drafted in 2017, he’s started just two games, though has extensive work as a tackle-eligible. Signed by the Steelers in the summer of 2018, he became a fan favorite for his “reporting-eligible” on gameday and big personality off the field. He beat out Okorafor to be the team’s starting RT for the 2020 season but tore his ACL in the fourth quarter of the opening game against the Giants, ending his season. Pittsburgh still gave him a contract extension last year but are quickly undoing that decision after Banner’s disappointing 2021 year.