The Pittsburgh Steelers rarely go after big-name free agents, but that doesn't mean they haven't locked up a few noticeable names in free agency in the past decade or so. Names like James Farrior, Ryan Clark and Mike Mitchell certainly get brought up when talking about the team's history of picking up players who have been able to make a name for themselves in a black and gold uniform.
Is the team's latest Free Agent acquisition, Ladarius Green, the next player to be on the list of Steelers ultimate free agents, or will he follow in the footsteps of Cam Thomas as a free agent acquisition to be forgotten? We grade the move by breaking down Green by skill set.
Green had a career year in 2015 due to the multiple-game absence of Antonio Gates. He caught 37 passes on 63 targets from Philip Rivers for 429 yards and 4 touchdowns. Although not a Antonio Gates type player, in terms of being one dimensional, Green can certainly catch the football. He shows a great ability of high pointing the ball, a skill he can utilize on his 6-foot 6-inch frame, and one which could help the Steelers' red-zone offense.
Green does have a big frame, but not a lot of weight behind it. At 6-foot 6-inches, the tight end weighs 250 pounds, and said he could bulk up to 255 if the team wanted him to be heavier. Nonetheless, it is almost unfair to compare his blocking skills to his predecessor in Pittsburgh, Heath Miller, but if there is an area of Green's game which could improve, it would be his blocking.
Green's large frame has already been an ongoing theme in this evaluation, but how he utilizes his body is certainly impressive. He has tremendous speed, something the Steelers haven't had at the tight end position with Miller, and hands to go with the speed. Green almost has a basketball player build, but run routes well and shows the ability to "hand catch" the ball, rather than let it get into his body, resulting in more catches.
The Steelers don't have a lot of money to spend on Free Agents, the never do, but they were able to give Green a deal he was happy with. The back loaded contract only pays out $1.25 million dollars his first year, $5 million dollars his second and $4.5 million his third and fourth years of the 4-year contract. Green certainly could have gone for more, but took a deal which was fair for him ($20 million total), and certainly fair for the Steelers.
This was a great pick up which will make an already explosive offense even more dynamic by adding a pass catching tight end with high end speed and athleticism to boot. He isn't Heath Miller, but no one expects that. His skill set, and the deal he signed, are perfect for the Steelers.