Michael Palmer Signing Could Put The Pressure On David Paulson

The Pittsburgh Steelers inked two players to contracts yesterday, the far less interesting of the two being tight end Michael Palmer. Palmer was the blocking complement to Tony Gonzalez with the Atlanta Falcons before being released last offseason, ultimately finding his way to Pittsburgh late in the offseason.

With both Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth out to start the year, Palmer and the trio of lesser tight ends, also including David Johnson and David Paulson, saw significant playing time during the first two games of the season.

Significant, at least, for tight ends who would be third, fourth, and fifth on a depth chart. In fact, it was Paulson who ‘started’ the first two games of the year, playing 106 snaps total. When Johnson went down early in the victory over the New York Jets, he was forced to log uncharacteristic snaps again to the tune of 35.

Outside of those three games, he played just 48 snaps, or one fewer than Palmer logged the entire season.

But by season’s end, it was Palmer who surpassed Paulson on the depth chart, which nearly coincided with the return of Spaeth. From Week 12 on, Paulson played just four snaps, with none coming between Week 13 and Week 16.

On the other hand, Palmer managed 18 snaps in that time frame, which is more significant than one might think, given that the return of Spaeth drastically cut into what playing time he could have gotten.

While both tight ends are members of certain special teams units, Palmer is certainly the superior performer, which is in large part why he made the roster in the first place.

He made two tackles on kickoff returns in a preseason game that may have saved touchdowns. During the season, he made two tackles while missing none. Paulson missed one tackle and failed to record any.

Palmer received so little playing time during the regular season as a receiving target that it’s difficult to compare the two. He was targeted just once, catching the pass for an eight-yard gain. In the preseason, however, he caught four of six targets with no drops for 52 yards.

Paulson, meanwhile, caught five of nine targets with one drop for 72 yards, but he also had a crucial fumble in Week Two after a 34-yard gain. During the preseason, he caught eight of 11 targets, with two of the incompletions going as drops, for 90 yards and a touchdown.

While Dave Bryan wrote yesterday that the Palmer signing is not likely to have an impact on the Steelers’ draft strategy, it should provide for an interesting camp battle should the two enter training camp gunning for the final tight end spot.

Both tight ends were kept on the roster last season, but that was partially due to the injuries to Miller and Spaeth, as well as Palmer’s special teams play. There’s certainly no guarantee that they carry four tight ends again. Regardless of whether or not they draft another tight end, however, the re-signing of Palmer could result in Paulson being on the outside looking in.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Bill Molinaro

    Love the writers flair for detail and for all these little incisive articles that keeps us returning to this site in the off season of the only really great sport. When I read these articles I realize how little I really know about football. Ah, I guess I’m just a fan. About Palmer: can he catch the football or is he just a small guard & special teams player? Keep the stuff coming!

  • dgh57

    David Paulson needs to go like yesterday!

  • Kenneth Wilt

    My assumption right now is that he is doing more that “pushing” Paulson. My assumption is he is already the #3 and Paulson will need to pass him to get his spot back. This is simply due to the help he can provide on special teams. Paulson may be the better receiver, but Palmer I think may contribute more in every other way.

  • alex

    david paulson is putting pressure on david paulson!

  • Shannon Stephenson

    No question Palmer is better. Paulson has had plenty of chances to prove him self and will have one more off season to show us but from what he has shown this isnt even a camp battle.

  • PA2AK

    The difference in blocking ability is huge too. Given the roles they’d be playing Paulson would be the likely choice to cut for sure.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He has a really small sample size (especially since he was playing with Tony Gonzalez before coming to Pittsburgh), but it doesn’t seem like receiving ability is a problem when he’s actually targeted).

  • Milliken Steeler

    Agreed, I think the only way Palmer doesn’t make the team is if we draft a TE early on, we only keep three TE’s or Paulson all of a sudden becomes a much better blocker and special team player.

  • kamil

    David paulson is a recieving tight end out of oregon, bad comparison

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    Palmer couldn’t put pressure in a flat tire.

  • PA2AK

    Lol…who else should he be compared to? His receiving abilities aren’t great enough to cover for his very weak blocking and ST contributions. These are the only two really fighting for a roster spot at the position. Not sure who else should be brought into the analysis…

  • kamil

    There comparing a TE/ wr to a strait up blocking TE withvtecieving capability, thats like comparing, players like dallas clark and jacob tamne..ones a

    strait reciever and lol at that bc obviously your trying to be a smart ass

  • PA2AK

    always try to be a smart ass. however, I don’t know who else you bring into the equation for comparison purposes. the basis of the article is with the signing of Palmer, additional pressure is put on Paulson to perform. While the two are very different players…why can’t they be compared to one another? Have to weigh the good and bad of both…see how that fits with your team needs and go from there. Palmer and Paulson are the two lowest on the list of TE’s…one will not likely make it out of camp. See what I mean to say? A bad comparison would be Palmer vs. Miller…that doesn’t do you any good.