The Pittsburgh Steelers surprised a lot of people Thursday afternoon when they announced they were releasing tight end Ladarius Green with a failed physical designation. Although fans had speculated Green simply wasn’t right in 2016, especially after his concussions, the team now finds themselves potentially searching for a need at the tight end position.
Before getting into available players, let’s give a quick run down on who the team has on their roster.
Scott Orndoff (R)
Phazahn Odom (R)
Although the team could go into the season with James, Johnson and Grimble as their primary tight ends, they could also look to free agency. This is not to suggest that either of the undrafted rookie free agents won’t make the team, but it is hardly a slam dunk that either of them could do what it takes to make the 53-man roster.
With the 2017 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, here are some tight ends the Steelers could target who are still available on the free agent market.
The former Cleveland Browns tight end didn’t have a very stellar season in 2016, but that might have a lot to do with the inconsistencies of which warm body the Browns had under center on any given week. Barnidge is 31 years-old, and is coming off a 612 yard receiving season (11.1 yards per catch) with two receiving touchdowns. However, in 2015 he had a 1,043 yard receiving season with 9 receiving touchdowns.
The 28 year-old former Miami Dolphins and Browns tight end played in only three games last year, and was never able to recapture his 2013 self where he caught over 900 yards receiving with 7 touchdown receptions.
The tight end Peyton Manning made into a household name is now 32 years old and coming off a Super Bowl season with the Atlanta Falcons. However, since of 2015 Tamme’s production has steadily declined. Not a good sign for a player on the wrong side of 30.
Other TEs still on the free agent market:
For a full list of available TEs, check out Sportsrac for the most up-to-date information.
When looking both at the above list, and the complete list on Sportrac’s website, you can see one thing very clearly — the tight end market is nearly bankrupt. The only remaining players seem to be those who are nothing more than blocking tight ends, those coming off an injury and those with major questions marks around their game and/or health.
The Steelers have to ask themselves if they really need to go out and get a Gary Barnidge, or if they can win with what they have. In my opinion, the team would be better off going into 2017 with the depth chart they currently have, and not spending money on a free agent who won’t be an impact player.