Upgrading the Steeler Tight End unit could be more of a luxury situation more than a need. First and foremost, the team needs to determine the value of incumbent Jesse James. If both parties decide it best to continue to have the area native pair with Vance McDonald, the team would probably remain in good shape. The Steelers also need to decide whether they wish to continue their employment of another FA Xavier Grimble. You may remember Grimble for an egregious decision to punish a Denver defender rather than to score easily last year. Those decisions may force them to go shopping or keep things as is. Should Kevin Colbert decider to do the former, here are the best available options at the position.
Eric Ebron - Indianapolis Colts
After four disappointing seasons in Detroit in which the former first rounder scored only 11 TDs, Ebron emerged as a top-tier TE in Indianapolis. Ebron and Andrew Luck connected 13 times for scores in 2018 to go with 750 yards and 66 receptions, all career highs. Ebron’s rebirth could garner him s huge deal. He’d be a welcome luxury in Pittsburgh, but the money may need to go to other areas.
Jesse James - Pittsburgh Steelers
It depends what kind of deal James is willing to take and what sort of deal the franchise is willing to offer, but resigning James would be far from a bad thing. Over the years, No. 81 has developed into a very good blocker and a reliable receiver. Combine his 2018 stats of 30 catches, 423 yards and two TDs with that of McDonald’s and you have 1,000+ yards, 80 catches a six TDs at the position.
Jared Cook - Oakland Raiders
Cook has had a solid career in the NFL, but it could be considered somewhat Nomadic. The veteran of four teams (Titans, Rams, Packers and Raiders) in ten seasons had his finest year in 2018. Achieving career highs of 68 catches, 896 yards and six TDs last season, should make the 32-year old valuable to teams.
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins - Jacksonville Jaguars
ASJ had a very solid 2017 as a Jet when he caught 50 balls and scored thrice. But his production really dipped after playing a mere five games in Jacksonville and had only 11 catches. He could be a bargain, but the veteran of three teams in five seasons is young enough to rebound with a solid QB.
Tyler Eifert - Cincinnati Bengals
When healthy, Eifert is an absolute stud. But when was the last time he was completely healthy? The Notre Dame product has played only ten games the past two seasons due to back issues. He could come as a bargain, but Steeler Nation still remember injury woes by their TE newcomers like Ladarius Green and Vance McDonald his first season in Pittsburgh. Eifert has played a mere 14 of Cincy’s past 48 games and is way too much of a risk, unless he’s getting a cheap prove-it deal.
Other Notable Free Agent Tight Ends
C.J. Uzomah - Cincinnati Bengals
Jeff Heuerman - Denver Broncos
Nick Boyle - Baltimore Ravens
Tyler Kroft - Cincinnati Bengals
James O’Shaughnessy - Jacksonville Jaguars
Luke Stocker - Tennessee Titans
Antonio Gates - Los Angeles Chargers