Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 Free Agents Analysis: TE Leonard Pope – Unrestricted

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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  • steeltown

    Pope will not be back.. too many other players that are actually worth re-signing and even some of them wont be back. Pope is a big redzone target, but he cant block and he cant play special teams.

    Need to draft another TE regardless.. Pianalto is often injured and McCoy is McCoy.. both are training camp bodies

  • NW86

    I agree that they need to draft a TE at some point. No one is mentioning David Johnson, but I would actually think he is more likely than Pope to be given a 1-year league minimum shot to come to camp. He could potentially be the #3TE, and also back up Will Johnson at fullback. He was never much of a pass catcher but was always a pretty good blocker.

  • steeltown

    I almost forgot about David.. but at this point with Haley and the new Offense, he’s on the outside looking in being gone for a full season. It would be no different then bringing in an undrafted guy, except the undrafted guy might have more upside.. and less scar tissue in his knee

  • alex

    pls insert top 4 draft pick here…

  • He’s also a big red zone target that doesn’t catch redzone passes. No reason at all to sign him.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Pope wont be back, didnt Pope announce he is retiring? 🙂

  • dgh57

    I questioned the Pope signing when it happened let alone should he be back!!!!!!

  • steeltown

    He did catch 2TD’s and was only targeted 4times during the regular season. So by that small sample he is capable of catching the ball, but he is worthless other than that..I am HUGE advocate of TE’s being able to block. If they’re looking for a player to do NOTHING more than be a redzone target.. they should just re-sign Burress

  • I was using his whole career as a sample size, not just last year. He has an inordinately low number of Redzone TDs for his size and skillset.

  • steeltown

    Agreed. I equate the Pope signing after Haley was hired to the Jonathan Scott signing when Kugler was hired