Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason and everything that means. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: TE Zach Gentry
Stock Value: Purchased
Reasoning: After sitting out there for a while as an unrestricted free agent, Zach Gentry finally re-signed with the Steelers, reportedly on a one-year deal. The contract has not been officially announced as yet, it is expected to be a low-value deal, perhaps a Four-Year Veteran Player Benefit Deal similar to Terrell Edmunds’ a year ago.
Zach Gentry said prior to the start of free agency that he not only wanted to re-sign with the Steelers, but he also was under the impression that the team would be willing to do what it took to retain him. As it turned out, the market dictated it wouldn’t cost much.
At least that’s the assumption. Given the context of Terrell Edmunds signing with the Philadelphia Eagles and Gentry reportedly returning to the Steelers one day later, it seems very likely that he was given a Four-Year Veteran Player Benefit contract, which would pay him a bit more than $2.5 million with a reduced cap hit.
So what comes next? For the time being, we know that they’re running last year’s tight end group back. Pat Freiermuth is the top tight end as the receiving option, with Gentry the designated blocker, while Connor Heyward is in the process of finding his role.
The question is whether or not Pittsburgh will continue to invest in the position this year, namely through the draft. Coming back on a one-year deal, they will be back in the same boat a year from now, and if they’re looking for a blocking tight end, they typically take at least a year or two to develop.
For now, we can assume that Gentry will continue in the role he has occupied for the past two seasons, as the primary blocker, particularly as the in-line option. He may even take on a more important role if the offense indeed shifts focus to running the ball more. We may also see the Steelers use the tackle-eligible tight end role more, especially if they do draft a tackle.