The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of several NFL teams who were in a tough spot heading into the 2021 season. With the salary cap dropping for the first time in its existence, signing, and retaining, free agents was going to be a challenge.
One of the areas which has been hit hard this offseason has been the offensive line. Alejandro Villanueva remains on the open market, Matt Feiler departed for Los Angeles and Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement has the center position in dire straits.
But that doesn’t mean the Steelers weren’t able to address the line at all, and they did so by signing Zach Banner to a new two-year contract.
Banner is tough to analyze from a starter perspective, he didn’t even get through a quarter of the Week 1 game vs. the New York Giants in 2020 before tearing the ACL in his knee. Outside of that, Banner was restricted to the role of “blocking tight end” who would register as an eligible linemen in jumbo packages.
Nonetheless, Banner recently joined Jim Rome to talk about the knee injury he described as “crushing”, his rehabilitation, how his Steelers teammates and the organization supported him throughout everything and, of course, his new contract with the black and gold.
Check out the clip below:
What stood out as the most poignant aspect of the conversation was Banner’s comments on Mike Tomlin. More specifically, Banner detailing how Tomlin told him he would be the team’s answer at tackle next season. Maybe this was Tomlin seeing the writing on the wall with Villanueva, but also a huge boost for a player like Banner who was looking for some type of hope during his rehab.
The question of whether the combination of Chuks Okorafor and Banner, whichever side they play, is good enough to win football game and protect Ben Roethlisberger is another issue altogether.
In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.