The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted before they even reached the postseason, which unfortunately marks the sixth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—tying their longest drought of the Super Bowl era. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-8 and nearly making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Haden to most of their wide receiver room, not to mention Stephon Tuitt’s decision to retire.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2022 season.
Player: TE Zach Gentry
Experience: 4 Years
At least in terms of usage and role, the 2022 season was a career year for Zach Gentry. The veteran tight end played 577 offensive snaps, roughly half of the team’s total, after playing about 40 percent of the snaps a year earlier.
But that doesn’t mean it was a better season. Indeed, it was not. While he established himself a year earlier as the team’s blocking tight end, he performed that task at a higher level in 2021. Not that he did his job poorly in 2022, or that he wouldn’t do better in 2023.
But that is an important thing to consider because he is due to be an unrestricted free agent next week and the Steelers have to decide how much they are willing to pay him to keep him. Or whether or not they would prefer to seek a veteran alternative, one who has a bit more credibility as a full-time blocker.
Because they’re not exactly expanding his role as a receiver. He actually had two fewer targets last season, 23 to 25, than he did a year earlier. He did drop a pass. And he averaged just 6.9 yards per catch, all the same. But, again, that’s not to say that there isn’t more meat on the bone where that role is concerned.
Yet the Steelers already have Pat Freiermuth as a very solid pass-catching tight end. And perhaps Connor Heyward can develop into that second receiving option at the position. So then the focus becomes, we need an in-line blocker, don’t we? And can we do better than Gentry in that area for a similar price tag?
Of course, these are the questions we’re asking now. The Steelers have asked themselves long ago and got their answers. I would imagine that they’re going to make a legitimate effort to re-sign him, and provided that he doesn’t get a substantial offer on the open market they wouldn’t reasonably match, he should continue his career in the black and gold.