The vast bulk of the offseason roster moves to be made before the draft are already completed, so now is a good time to start taking a look at how the month of March (and the early portions of April) have affected the depth chart.
The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the offseason with 21 unrestricted free agents. They retained many of them, but also lost a few that they likely wished to keep, and were forced to replace them from outside the organization. The Steelers also released a few players, in addition to signing half a dozen (and counting) players from other teams.
The first position we will take a look at is tight end, and the offseason gains and losses there that the team has experienced.
Michael Palmer: The Steelers brought in veteran blocking tight end Michael Palmer late in the offseason after dealing with a number of injuries at the position, including Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, and David Johnson.
It seemed he was destined to be just a camp body and nothing more, or at least would surely be released once the Steelers got some numbers back from the walking wounded, but he stuck around for the entire season.
In fact, by season’s end, he was getting playing time as the third tight end behind Miller and Spaeth, and that may be where he winds up in his second season in Pittsburgh, ahead of David Paulson. Either way, however, he will need to continue to perform well on special teams to maintain his roster spot.
David Johnson: David Johnson suffered a torn ACL in the first game of the 2012 preseason, and the rehabilitation from that injury lingered perhaps even into the regular season last year. Because of Spaeth being out, and Miller missing the first two games, however, Johnson was asked to play a prominent role early on last season.
He performed well after moving back to tight end from fullback, having a couple of strong games as a blocker, and even contributed a bit in the passing game, but he suffered a season-ending wrist injury just five games into the season.
Johnson ended up signing a two-year contract with the San Diego Chargers early on during free agency, but reports seemed to indicate that he wasn’t really in the Steelers’ plans going forward. That wouldn’t be especially surprising for a player who hasn’t played much in the past two years due to injury.
Remaining Free Agents: