2022 Offseason Questions: How Big Of A Role Will Zach Gentry Have On Offense?

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—some already decided, some not.

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 was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.

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: How big of a role will Zach Gentry have in the offense this season?

Zach Gentry technically began the 2021 season as the Steelers’ number three tight end behind co-starters Pat Freiermuth and Eric Ebron, but I think a lot of fans have already forgotten about Ebron’s existence. In spite of the fact that he had to play behind Ebron for much of the season, however, Gentry still finished the regular season having played close to 500 snaps, or 40 percent of the offensive total.

His snap percentage did tick upward as the season progressed, and in fact he played quite a bit late in the year, hitting 50 percent or more in five of the final six games, and he did also begin to see a couple more targets as a receiver in the process.

While Ben Roethlisberger was not one to shy away from the tight end position, Mitch Trubisky and other quarterbacks within his level of competence and tendencies often rely more heavily upon the tight end position as a checkdown option.

With an increased desire to focus on the running game, we could be naturally primed to see an increase in two-tight-end sets anyway. Yet Gentry did play nearly 500 snaps already last year, which is no small workload. So what will his role look like in the offense this year, now that he has a year of meaningful playing time under his belt—but also with a year under the belt for Freiermuth, as well?

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