The Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed unrestricted free agent tight end Michael Palmer on Friday and many believe that move now rules out the team drafting a tight end in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest leads the charge following Palmer’s signing as he wrote on Twitter, “Michael Palmer re-signed by @Steelers. 1-year, likely for the veteran minimum. U can cross TE off the list 4 this draft. QB, S, prob OL, too”
While Labriola might ultimately be correct, I don’t think it’s as big of a slam dunk that he makes it out to be.
First, Palmer signed a one-year contract and while financials have yet to be released, I will be surprised if it isn’t a qualifying contract with a reduced cap charge. At most, Palmer will receive a $65,000 signing bonus and we’ll know for sure if that’s the case within 24 hours.
Second, Palmer played all of 49 snaps on offense last season for the Steelers as his primary role was playing special teams. As his contract will likely suggest, he’s not a lock to make the final 53 man roster in 2014.
Yes, Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth are both locks to make the 53 man roster this season, but who’s currently behind them? As of right now, it’s Palmer and third-year tight end David Paulson, who dropped behind the former on the depth chart during the second half of the 2013 season. Should Paulson not make the final 53 man roster this year, releasing him only creates $11,474 in dead money in 2014 and another $11,474 dead charge in 2015.
Heading into Thursday, the Steelers only had three tight ends under contract for 2014 and they generally like to carry at least five or six healthy ones during training camp, and the preseason. As you can clearly see, they have room for two more and one of those two still could arrive via the draft.
So, if you are for the Steelers drafting either Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Troy Niklas, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Arthur Lynch or Crockett Gillmore, I don’t believe your hopes have been dashed by the Steelers re-signing a camp body on Friday.