2017 Offseason Questions: Would TE Be A Need If Ladarius Green Were Healthy?

The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: How big of a need is the tight end position if Ladarius Green is actually healthy?

There has been a lot of writing over the course of the early days of this offseason about the Steelers and their need to a dependable tight end, something that you can very easily argue that they do not have, just a year removed from Heath Miller’s retirement.

They were hoping to salve that wound with the free agent acquisition of Ladarius Green, who represented a bit of a different style of tight end than they have been used to over the course of their history—really, a style that has only in recent years since drafting Miller in 2005 that has become more prominent.

Green’s health issues, including a concussion that kept him off the field for the last several weeks of the season and whose condition since then we still have not been updated on, has been a notable cause for concern even within the organization, as owner Art Rooney II said himself.

This has many scouring this year’s draft prospects to try to figure out who will be this year’s newest tight end for the Steelers, including seemingly all of my fellow writers here. I tend to be on the less alarmed end of the spectrum.

So I want to pose the question this way, as a hypothetical. Assuming that we knew going into free agency and the draft that the Steelers would be getting in 2017 the tight end Ladarius Green that they thought they were signing in free agency, who could be a 16-game starter and offer the big-play ability that he flashed in his six games played, how big a need is the tight end position?

In that situation, I personally don’t think there would be a need at all, with Jesse James well-suited to the number two role, David Johnson returning as a competent blocker and valuable depth, and Xavier Grimble as a bit of a wildcard. If I could know today that Green would have no health issues, I don’t think I would spend much time scouting this year’s tight end class. But, of course, that’s not the case. That’s why this is a hypothetical.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Conserv_58

    The ultimate question regarding, Green is, will he ever be healthy, given how many concussions he’s had? IMO, the answer is, no. Based on my observations of his personality, he’s too meak and soft spoken. His eyes and facial expressions tell me that he lacks the requisite temperament and drive to be elite.

  • dany

    If he’s really healthy maybe you dont draft the top TE prospect if it falls to you on the first round, but you still need to get some insurance in the next three rounds. FA I’d say no since it would cost them too much, but you still need one in the draft

  • Taylor Williams

    A big wide receiver is more useful. Ben rarely used his tight end in the redzone. When he did though, he usually overthrew him.

  • falconsaftey43

    Of course it wouldnt be a need. Youd have the athletic pass cqtcher in Green and the up and coming James. But it wouldnt be a bad thing to have another athletic pass catcher and bump Grimble from the roster. Especially with this running game, multiple receiving threats at TE could be very effective.

  • Paddy

    I respectfully disagree, Heath Miller was superb in the red zone and Ben found him quite often

  • steelburg

    I agree that he may never be healthy. But I highly disagree with the personality and the temperament thing. Who is more meek and soft spoken then Troy Polamalu? I will answer that for you no one. I truly believe that a fully healthy Green combined with this off-season to prepare and get into a little better shape I think he would have dominate in the 2017 season. He looked a little slower this year and I think it was because he couldn’t do much on that ankle during the offseason. But I think a full off season would have been all he needed to really come into form with this team.

  • No. Unless they found a guy who is basically a road grader at TE in the late rounds with decent hands I believe the Steelers would be free from any concern at the position. That’s what they were going for when they signed Green, and, alas, our needs are practically the same.

  • steelburg

    I think that has more to do with the play calling they don’t typically target the TE’S in the redzone in this offense. Might I add that it is absolutely a dumb idea of Haley not to use these guys down there. The times when Green was healthy they could have went with Green, Grimble, and James in a 3 TE set and lined Johnson up at FB and Bell up at RB and they would have had crazy mismatches and could have thrown to anyone one of those guys not to mention it gives the like of a run with all those TE’S.

  • Guillermo Garcia-Gomez

    No offense but isn’t this kind of a stupid question? He’s definitely not healthy, even if the team puts out a release soon saying he’s ok. I fear they will be hesitant to admit the mistake (see Jones, Jarvis) and will go into 2017 with green as their top tight end.

  • Guillermo Garcia-Gomez

    Not sure it will matter if he has a full offseason and a completely healthy ankle. One more big hit and this guy’s career could be over!

  • Andrew

    This TE class is so deep mixed with the fact James is still decent makes me hope we don’t a TE until day three. That way, Green still has a chance, James can still play, and the rookie can provide depth. The class is deep enough that we could get a guy in the 4th that could be rated as a day two pick.

  • francesco

    I don’t think L. Green will play 50% of the games. I wouldn’t even bring him back next year. And still I don’t think we should waste a draft pick on a TE.
    Grimble is good enough. The real problem is Ben quite frankly. He doesn’t trust his TE because he doesn’t know them and so he hesitates to throw to them.

  • tcirish53@gmail.com

    No doubt Matthew. If he was healthy then with those other two we are set at TE.
    But that’s a BIG if!!

  • Mr jack

    I would love Green to stay because I know what he can do,but those concussions you just never know ,and at 5 million that is a chunk to eat if he is not on the field.Maybe if he would drop his salary to 1 million and the rest in per game bonuses,I’m all in ,but at 5 million,I would not take that chance .

  • Mr jack

    Kinda agree with you,Gimble is a stud but they will not let the kid show what he can do on a full time basis

  • steelburg

    I agree. But the whole article is based off a hypothetical and my comment is based off that.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    They can do that with green and grimble have no idea why they chose not to though

  • RickM

    Without hesitation, TE wouldn’t be a need under that hypothetical.

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  • ThatGuy

    Don’t forget the numerous times Ben overthrew James this season. That’s not JJ’s fault.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Not as often as he should have.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Green’s return coincided with an injury for Grimble actually.

  • Taylor Williams

    In heaths last year’s. Ben rarely threw it to him. He’s overthrown James a number of times as well.

  • Zuami Montanez

    We should just sign cameron brate.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    adam shaheen would not be a waste of a 4th pick.