Disclaimer: The author realizes that the 2021 Steelers are probably going to be burning in Salary Cap Hell and can’t pony up much money for free agents. However, you never know what they have planned and it’s the author’s responsibility to highlight the free agent options.
The Steelers have many an issue on offense with losses on the line, at wide receiver and running back. At tight end, however, they signed Eric Ebron last season in free agency and he will be back after a pretty decent 2020. But Vance McDonald retired and Ebron only has a year remaining on his deal. If the Steelers aren’t too sure about his backups, Zach Gentry and Kevin Rader, they will probably focus on the position in the draft. They could also look at some valuable bargains in free agency. Should they find salary cap room to add, here is the list of available free agents should a Steel City Money Miracle occur.
ONCE AGAIN. THE AUTHOR REALIZES THAT THE STEELERS DO NOT HAVE THE FUNDS FOR MANY OF THESE PLAYERS. HOWEVER, THIS IS THE LIST OF WHO IS AVAILABLE TO THE ENTIRE LEAGUE AND THE STEELERS. YOU CAN CRITICIZE THE IDIOT AUTHOR ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER OR BLEACHER REPORT COMMENTS SECTION FOR WASTING YOUR TIME AND NOT KNOWING ANYTHING AT ALL, AGAIN AND AGAIN. HOWEVER, THESE WILL CONTINUE TO APPEAR.
Most Notable Free Agent Tight Ends
Hunter Henry - Los Angeles Chargers
Age 26, 6’3”/250 lbs.
Stats: Games - 14, Targets - 87, Receptions - 60, Receiving Yards - 613, Yards per Reception - 10.2 Touchdowns - 4, Drops - 3
No. 24 PFF Position Ranking
Overall Grade: 69.3 (Above Average), Receiving: 67.3 (Above Average), Pass Blocking 53.9 (Below Average), Run Blocking 68.8 (Above Average)
Henry was initially considered to be the next great pass-catching tight end in the league. However, injuries have plagued the former Arkansas Razorback. Henry has missed 25 games so far throughout his career, but only two last season. PFF projects the Chargers tight end to make $12 million per year due to his great hands, excellent route-running and ability to separate from defenders.
Robert Tonyan (RFA) - Green Bay Packers
Age 27, 6’5”/237 lbs.
Stats: Games - 16, Targets - 58, Receptions - 52, Receiving Yards - 586, Yards per Reception - 11.3 Touchdowns - 11, Drops - 0
No. 27 PFF Position Ranking
Overall Grade: 68.5 (Above Average), Receiving: 71.8 (Above Average), Pass Blocking 57.6 (Average), Run Blocking 52.2 (Below Average)
The Green Bay Packer TE had a breakout 2020 season. After only 14 receptions and two scores his first two years in the league, the athletic Tonyan caught 11 scoring balls from Aaron Rodgers last season. Teams may have to surrender a draft pick to sign Tonyan, but he may be worth it.
Rob Gronkowski - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Age 38, 6’6”/268 lbs.
Stats: Games - 16, Targets - 75, Receptions - 45, Receiving Yards - 623, Yards per Reception - 13.8, Touchdowns - 7, Drops - 3
No. 16 PFF Position Ranking
Overall Grade: 72.0 (Above Average), Receiving: 78.7 (Above Average), Pass Blocking 58.9 (Average), Run Blocking 55.0 (Below Average)
After coming out of retirement to win a Super Bowl in Tampa with Tom Brady, it’s doubtful that Gronk plays with any other QB. No. 87 is still a tremendous red zone threat with great hands and still blocks well too. Expect another year by the pirate ship, but never say never about Gronkowski ending up elsewhere.
Jonnu Smith - Tennessee Titans
Age 25, 6’3”/248 lbs.
Stats: Games - 15, Targets - 63, Receptions - 41, Receiving Yards - 448, Yards per Reception - 10.9, Touchdowns - 8, Drops - 2
Definitely not known for his blocking whatsoever, Jonnu Smith is an incredible pass catcher that does his best work after the catch. The Tennessee Titan is a tackle breaker extraordinaire. PFF projects a $38 million contact over four years for the 25-year old free agent.
No. 24 PFF Position Ranking
Overall Grade: 75.2 (High Quality), Receiving: 79.2 (High Quality), Pass Blocking 53.9 (Below Average), Run Blocking 68.8 (Above Average)
Gerald Everett - Los Angeles Rams
Age 27, 6’3”/240 lbs.
Stats: Games - 16, Targets - 59, Receptions - 41, Receiving Yards - 417, Yards per Reception - 10.2 Touchdowns - 1, Drops - 6
No. 45 PFF Position Ranking
Overall Grade: 62.8 (Average), Receiving: 63.2 (Average), Pass Blocking 55.9 (Average), Run Blocking 62.8 (Average)
Gerald Everett would be a great bargain signing for any team at a PFF projected $5 million per year. The highly athletic tight end hasn’t had blockbuster numbers, but if he finds an offense that values a TE with good hands an is dynamic after the catch...Everett can thrive.
Most Notable Steelers Free Agent Tight Ends
The Vanimal retired soon after the 2020 season ended for the Steelers.
Other Notable Free Agent Tight Ends
Anthony Firkser (RFA) - Tennessee Titans
MyCole Pruitt - Tennessee Titans
Geoff Swaim- Tennessee Titans
Trey Burton - Indianapolis Colts
Dan Arnold - Arizona Cardinals
Darrell Daniels - Arizona Cardinals
Jared Cook - New Orleans Saints
Tyler Kroft - Buffalo Bills
Jordan Reed - San Francisco 49ers
Tyler Eifert - Jacksonville Jaguars
James O’Shaughnessy - Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacob Hollister - Seattle Seahawks
Richard Rodgers - Philadelphia Eagles
Joshua Perkins - Philadelphia Eagles
Derek Carrier - Las Vegas Raiders
Jason Witten - Las Vegas Raiders
Chris Manhertz - Carolina Panthers
Jeremy Sprinkle - The Washington Football Team
Blake Bell - Dallas Cowboys
Luke Stocker - Atlanta Falcons
Virgil Green - Los Angeles Chargers
Cethan Carter - Cincinnati Bengals
Jake Butt - Denver Broncos
Demetrius Harris - Chicago Bears
Eric Tomlinson - Baltimore Ravens
Anthony Auclair - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Marcedes Lewis - Green Bay Packers
Daniel Brown - New York Jets
Ross Travis - New York Jets