Tight End Matt Spaeth – Steelers 2011 Free Agent
Free Agent Classification: UFA (unrestricted free agent)
2010 Salary Estimation: $1,101,000 Base – $1,101,000 Cap Charge
Analysis: We continue on with our breakdown player by player of each of the Steelers 18 free agents and up next up for analysis is tight end Matt Spaeth. Spaeth was a restricted free agent last offseason and the Steelers brought him back in 2010 on a one year tender of slightly more than a million dollars. Spaeth is primarily used as a blocking tight end in the Steelers two tight end sets and occasionally gets a target in the passing game. Make no mistake though, Spaeth is no threat to starter Heath Miller in the passing game. In 2010 Spaeth got off to a rough start against the Falcons and Titans, but got more consistent in his blocking as the season progressed. Spaeth was targeted just 18 times during the regular season and caught just 9 balls. He likely will be most remembered for final two offensive plays against the Jets in week 15. Spaeth had an opportunity to win the game for the Steelers, but could not come up with either pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. On the first of the two, Spaeth appeared to cut in front of intended receiver Emmanuel Sanders in the back of the end zone and the pass went through his hands. He bobbled the second pass in the left corner of the endzone on the games final play. Spaeth had started in place of the injured Miller in that game and did have a touchdown catch earlier in that contest to his credit. Spaeth also played on special teams in 2010 and had just one tackle and was also used on the kickoff return team in addition as an up-man.
Including the playoffs, Spaeth logged nearly 550 snaps on offense in 2010. He missed two games due to a concussion he received in the Raiders game and David Johnson received his share of the work in both of those games he was out. The Steelers won both in his absence. As far as his pass blocking goes, I had Spaeth responsible for 2 quarterback hits and 5 pressures allowed on the season.
Future: Spaeth is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason as he now has 4 years accrued under his belt. Because of the uncertainty with the labor situation and CBA, the Steelers placed a low grade tender of around 1.275 million on him in case the free agency rules of the 2010 season are used once again. If that happens, Spaeth would then be considered a restricted free agent and almost certainly would not receive a contract offer from another team that the Steelers would have the choice of matching or getting that teams 2011 3rd round draft pick in exchange. Even if Spaeth is deemed unrestricted, as scheduled, it is hard to see other teams lining up and fighting for his services. The Steelers very well could address the tight end position in the April draft either way, so if Spaeth does some how end up back in training camp with the Steelers, he almost certainly will have competition for a roster spot. It is evident by the tender placed on him, that the Steelers at least think enough of him to give him an opportunity to win a roster spot. However he should not be considered a lock to make the final 53 man roster at this point.
Other 2011 Steelers Free Agents Analysis