Following the news that the Steelers are working out former Patriots tight end Scotty Washington today, it’s apparent the team is looking for help at that position. Tight ends are critical for a young quarterback to have as a safety blanket, so I’m in favor of GM Omar Khan making a move for a veteran in the trade market. Here are three reasons why the Steelers should target a veteran tight end ahead of the NFL trade deadline and a couple of names they should consider.
1. Pat Freiermuth’s injury
Freiermuth seemed ready to return to action in the Steelers Week 7 contest against the Los Angeles Rams, but he aggravated the hamstring injury he suffered in their Week 4 loss to the Houston Texans in practice last week.
While he only has eight receptions in 2023, Freiermuth has proved to be one of the top tight ends in the NFL over his first two seasons — becoming one of two tight ends in NFL history to catch over 60 passes in each of his first two seasons.
TEs to catch 60+ passes in each of their first two years, NFL history:— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) June 22, 2023
- Pat Freiermuth
- Keith Jackson
No one's done it their first three years. Freiermuth's got a good shot to become the first. #Steelers https://t.co/FWrGH9Ujsg
Freiermuth could return at some point, but hamstring injuries are easy to reaggravate, as demonstrated last week. That puts the Steelers in danger of potentially missing him for an extended time.
2. Lack of production from the rest of the TE group
Nothing against Connor Heyward or Darnell Washington, but they just aren’t much threats in the passing game. Heyward has five catches for 46 yards in the past two games that Freiermuth missed, and Washington has just one catch on three targets this season. Washington will evolve into more of a pass catcher, but right now he’s being utilized more as the sixth offensive lineman.
3. There are cheap veterans on the market
I’ll give you two names.
The first is New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry. Henry is in the final year of his contract, so he’d be a short-term rental. He’s hauled in 20 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns this season, playing for an abysmal Patriots offense. He’s always been an advanced pass-catcher and a reliable target. Henry has scored 34 touchdowns in 96 career games played. He’d help Kenny Pickett and this offense in a big way.
The second is Las Vegas Raiders tight end Austin Hooper, who won’t necessarily have yinzers running out to grab Hooper jerseys. However, he would provide the experience necessary to be a crafty and knowledgeable weapon for Pickett. He only has ten catches this season, as the Raiders drafted tight end Michael Mayer in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, making Hooper expendable.
It’s important to note that these players won’t cost an arm and a leg. It’s likely that either can be had for later-round draft picks, so there’s not a ton to lose.
What are your thoughts on the Steelers acquiring a tight end in the trade market? Join the Behind The Steel Curtain community and let us know your thoughts in the comments!