Player: Zach Gentry
Position: Tight End
Experience: 4 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2022 Salary Cap Hit: $ $1,051,115
2022 Season Breakdown:
The 2022 season really wasn’t much different for Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Zach Gentry from the year before. His primary function was as a blocker, particularly as a run blocker. He saw a similar amount of targets with the same number of receptions, none of which wound up in the end zone.
The biggest difference is that he was an ascending player in 2021 weaning into a new role. By this past season, it was more about cementing a niche and growing it. The Steelers would like to continue to work on fine-tuning that with him going forward, should they be able to re-sign him this offseason.
After spending his first two seasons learning the NFL-level tight end position, Gentry has developed into a genuine asset over the past two. He is a solid blocking tight end who draws the toughest assignments accordingly, and while he is not quite on the Matt Spaeth level in that department, he can still grow further.
I do think there is potential for him to be a bigger part of the passing game, if the Steelers want to work more two-tight end sets going forward. That’s a distinct possibility with a young quarterback and an offense that seems to want to run the ball. Having Gentry on the field more and accenting his receiving ability would also allow them to get their most diverse, least predictable package on the field. And they might have to if they can’t find a reliable slot receiver.
Free Agency Outlook:
How much does a heavily-used, reliable number two blocking tight end with receiving upside cost on the open market? The Steelers are about to find out. The tight end market can actually be pretty fickle. It was on the high side a few years ago. In other years, not so much, dictated by the free agent pool, the draft class, and more than most positions, what’s happening at the other skill positions at the same time.
I’m confident that the Steelers have every intention of keeping Gentry as long as it’s on a deal that makes sense to both parties. He has recently said that he hasn’t heard from the team yet, but that from what he’s been told those conversations with pending free agents don’t typically happen in Pittsburgh until around the NFL Scouting Combine.
Losing Gentry would leave a pretty big hole, considering he’s a 500-plus-snap guy and nobody else on the roster could fill his in-line blocking role. So would they pony up a few million a year to keep him? That’s what I would bet on. And I don’t think he wants to leave, even if he feels he can have a larger passing role elsewhere.