The Pittsburgh Steelers offseason continues on and we too will continue on now with our breakdown of the free agents as we inch closer towards the start of free agency. Next up on the list of unrestricted free agents is veteran tight end Leonard Pope.
Player: Leonard Pope
Position: Tight End
Experience: 7 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2012 Salary Cap Hit: $565,000
2012 Season Breakdown: Pope was the Steelers one free agent splash last offseason as offensive coordinator Todd Haley felt the need to add a familiar face as a backup to Heath Miller. While Pope started the season as the Steelers backup tight end he was quickly overtaken by rookie seventh round draft pick David Paulson by the time the Week 5 game against the Philadelphia Eagles rolled around.
Pope played 51 snaps on offense in the first three games of the season in personnel sets that featured two and three tight ends and was very unimpressive as a blocker, just as I predicted he would be when he was signed. He would go on to play 31 more snaps on offense the rest of the season with 12 of those snaps coming in the season finale against the Cleveland Browns because Miller had suffered a serious knee injury the week before. The 6 foot, 8 inch Pope recorded 3 catches for 9 yards and 2 touchdowns on the season and was only targeted 3 times in total.
As far as special teams went, Pope was non-existent there as well. He did not record a tackle and was penalized once for a blind-side block.
Free Agency Outlook: The Steelers will monitor the injury status of Miller very closely throughout the offseason and they might need a more reliable free agent tight end as a result. Paulson will of course be back for his second season, but it is hard to see Pope returning on another one year deal as he is a liability more than an asset on both offense and special teams.
The Steelers very well could address the position in the draft at some point and have already added Zack Pianalto and Jamie McCoy as futures since the season ended. Pope\’s one season in a Steelers uniform was a forgettable one and it would not be surprising to see him out of the league now.
Other 2012 Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis
Charlie Batch – Unrestricted Free Agent
Casey Hampton – Unrestricted Free Agent
Plaxico Burress – Unrestricted Free Agent
Larry Foote – Unrestricted Free Agent
Byron Leftwich – Unrestricted Free Agent
Will Allen – Unrestricted Free Agent
Max Starks – Unrestricted Free Agent
Greg Warren – Unrestricted Free Agent
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