I don’t care how many people say that the Pittsburgh Steelers are fine behind dynamic TE Pat Freiermuth. Freiermuth could be the “next big thing” in the NFL, but the Steelers need a competent TE2 behind him. Someone that is not afraid to get down and dirty in the trenches and someone that brings something to the passing game as well. That someone could be former Steelers TE Jesse James, who was with the team from 2015-2018 (4 seasons).
Some of you might be saying, well the Steelers already have current TE2, Zach Gentry. Gentry has shown little growth since entering the league in 2019. The tight end has totaled 20 receptions for 171 yards in his three years, with most of his production (19 receptions and 167 yards) coming from last season alone. Last season, was the first time Gentry played in more than 4 games in a season; he appeared in all 17 regular games for the Steelers. Now, I’m not saying that Gentry isn’t capable of being the TE2 behind Freiermuth that the Steelers offense needs. I just think that the Steelers need someone more dependable at the position, from an availability standpoint. Gentry has missed a total of 14 games in his career after the Steelers spent a fifth round pick on him in the 2019 NFL Draft.
So, why bring back “The Outlaw” Jesse James? The Steelers love to bring in players they already have a connection with. What free agent TE candidate do they know better than James?
According to OverTheCap.com, the Steelers have around $23 million left in cap space for 2022. The team has only one rookie left to sign a contract, Kenny Pickett, who will only account for approximately $2 million on the salary cap. Why not use some of that, and it won’t be much at all, to bring in James to compete for the TE2 job with Gentry. Behind Freiermuth and Gentry, the Steelers have Kevin Rader, Jace Sternberger, and Connor Heyward, who is listed as a TE/FB. Not much experience in the room at all, the most in-game experience comes from last year’s rookie, Freiermuth, and that says a lot!
Why should the Steelers should reunite with James?
James would bring veteran leadership to a tight end room that lacks it. We all know that Freiermuth is the man, but the team needs a steady TE2 that can make an impact when he’s in the game. Whether that impact comes from getting down and dirty in the trenches or catching passes in the middle of the field, the offense need someone that can do it, dependably.
James, in his seven-year career, has missed only 11 games in his career, eight of those coming from his rookie season in 2015, when he was the team’s TE3 behind none other than “HEEAATTHH,” himself, Heath Miller and long-time TE2 Matt Spaeth. In his career, James has totaled 157 receptions for 1,522 yards and 12 touchdowns. The tight end has accounted for capturing 76 first down receptions with the Steelers, the Detroit Lions, and most recently, the Chicago Bears. His 6’7″ and 251 lb. frame might not show it, but the tight end can be fearless in the trenches against defensive linemen and outside linebackers, as well!
And of course, James, yinzers will never forget the catch that you most definitely made!
Catch or no catch? pic.twitter.com/tYotvL6jhl
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 18, 2017