UPDATE: The team also made the signings of Breiden Fehoko, formerly of the Los Angeles Chargers, and Keanu Neal, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, official today. Fehoko will provide depth on the interior defensive line while Neal can play the box safety role vacated by Terrell Edmunds’ departure. Fehoko signed a one-year contract while Neal signed a two-year deal.
The Pittsburgh Steelers announced their signings of tight end Zach Gentry and safety Damontae Kazee today. Both spent 2022 with the Steelers, and Gentry re-upped with the team on a one-year contract while Kazee signed a two-year contract.
Gentry, a fifth-round pick by the Steelers in 2019, has emerged as the team’s top blocking tight end. The former Michigan quarterback will look to expand his role in his fifth season in Pittsburgh. He’ll likely serve as the No. 2 tight end, although Connor Heyward might take on an increased role in the passing game. Gentry’s had exactly 19 receptions each of the last two seasons, so I don’t expect him to be much of a downfield threat going forward with both Pat Freiermuth and Heyward also in the tight end room.
Kazee missed significant time last season after suffering a preseason injury, but he made an impact with two interceptions, including one against the New Orleans Saints in his first game back from injury. He’ll have a bigger role for the Steelers in 2023 with the team losing safety Terrell Edmunds to the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency. While the Steelers added another safety this offseason in Keanu Neal, expect Kazee to see an increase in snaps.
He only played 273 defensive snaps last season. Assuming he’s healthy, that number should increase in 2023. He was the NFL interception leader in 2018 with seven, and if he shows off his ball skills he and Minkah Fitzpatrick could be a devastating safety duo.
In addition to Gentry and Kazee, the Steelers also brought back some of their own free agents by signing Larry Ogunjobi and James Pierre earlier this offseason. I’m excited to see what Kazee, who was signed in April 2022, can do in an increased role next season, and hopefully Gentry can take the next step to become an even better blocking tight end.