The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead, they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.
On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.
Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answering, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.
Question: Should the Steelers pursue veteran options at tight end other than Zach Gentry?
As a matter of course, I fully anticipate that the Steelers intend to, and will, re-sign Zach Gentry. As such, this is not a question about what we think the team will do but rather what they should do. Gentry has been the team’s number two tight end and primary blocker for the past two seasons. Realistically, nobody else on the roster is more qualified for the role. But ought they seek to bring in somebody from the outside instead?
It’s sometimes hard to gauge market value, but I don’t get the sense Gentry will be out of the Steelers’ price range by any means. Certainly, he wouldn’t be much more expensive than other options they might consider bringing in as his substitute.
They’re not going to be in the market for a Mike Gesicki, obviously, and you can’t replace Gentry with somebody who’s not going to be much of a blocker like Austin Hooper, but there are other names to consider. Jonathan Heitritter previously laid out the argument against re-signing Gentry and offered Drew Sample and Eric Tomlinson as two veteran options who might be able to take his place instead.
There is also the draft to consider, but it’s less likely that you’re going to find a ready-made blocker coming out of college, and the Steelers certainly don’t want to see their run game take a step backward because they don’t have the adequate support on the end of the line of scrimmage.
Or, should they simply re-sign Gentry and continue to work in this area? They could do that and possibly draft a developmental tight end with blocking upside, at least in theory. They have carried four tight ends on the 53-man roster before, and as we know, Connor Heyward is not strictly a tight end. But they would have to work out the roster numbers somehow. Perhaps that developmental tight end might wind up on the practice squad.