Colbert Says Steelers Were Happy With Ladarius Green’s Play

It’s not often that we get much access to Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, but when we do, it comes at around this time, during the offseason, when he plays his most important roles, in reshaping the roster for the next season. Because the opportunities to gain his perspective are fairly sparse, we tend to seize on his messages.

One of the most interesting comments that I think Colbert made to reporters yesterday was a nugget pertaining to free agent tight end Ladarius Green, who only saw the field for six games out of a possibly 19—or 23 if you include the preseason—first due to a lengthy recovery from ankle surgery and then to a clearly significant concussion.

But Colbert conveyed the idea that the organization was very pleased with what they actually saw from their $20 million investment when he actually was on the field. According to Chris Bradford, Green was “everything the Steelers expected” when they were able to see him play.

The receiving tight end caught 18 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown with a nearly 17 yards-per-catch average, including a career-high six-catch, 110-yard performance against the Giants. In the game in which he was injured, he caught five passes for 72 yards, including an explosive play that converted a third and long and essentially sealed the victory.

But that was the catch on which he took a blow to the head and suffered what appears to be the most significant concussion yet of his career. He attempted to return to practice on at least one occasion, but had a setback, and as a result missed the team’s final two regular season games and all three postseason contests.

Colbert talked about his concussion after pointing out that the team doesn’t play any games until August, “so he’s got time to heal properly”. “In any concussion”, he said, the one thing we do know is that you have to give it time to properly heal before you re-enter into competition. And that’s where he is”.

It’s not entirely clear here if Colbert is indicating that Green is still dealing with concussion symptoms or is referencing the nature of the offseason. It’s possible that he may not be re-evaluated until the new league year or the first spring practices start.

He did say that Green is “entering the offseason” and that “he’s excited about being able to come back and being able to play”, adding that “we’ll see where he is when he gets back in the program in March or April, whenever he comes back here”, a comment that leans more toward the latter from the above in indicating that he may not even know where the tight end is currently with his concussion.

What we do now know is that the Steelers are happy with what they saw from Green the player, even if they didn’t see as much as they wanted. We have gotten our fair share of accusations of him playing slow, timid, and worse, but the Steelers don’t seem to agree. Provided that he is able to overcome this concussion, I would expect big things in his future.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • I hate to say it, but my honest feeling is that it’s doubtful he will play more than 8 games in a season for the rest of his career. We might be lucky to see him play 8. I hope I’m wrong of course, fingers crossed because his presence takes our offense to another level. One thing that bothers me is other teams know of his condition, so I can see someone like Burfict, or some idiot Raven going for the knockout blow in a game for the sole purpose of taking him out of the equation. Hoping for the best though

  • Steve Johnson

    He played six games out 16, where. Once upon a time in Steelers Nation, a lot of things currently going on wouldn’t be excepted.

  • WreckIess

    That’s true. When he was on the field dude was a beast. He just needs to stay of the field. Doctors and the team said they believe he can so that’s good enough for me, but I’d still like another TE in the 3rd or 4th round of the draft. At least someone to supplant James, who’s at best a No.2 TE.

  • VaDave

    Frankly, I’m thrilled with his play too. It’s the amount of time he’s in the garage that has me worried.

  • steelburg

    If we’re being technical it’s actually 6 out of 19.

  • capehouse

    If we’re really being technical he played 140 snaps of a possible 1,278 including the playoffs. That’s like 11%.

  • NinjaMountie

    4, 16, 14, 13, and 6…Those are his games played while in the NFL. Now mind you those middle 3 come with him splitting time and it’s still declining. I wouldn’t have faith in him making the season ever.

    Edit: Rec per year in league compared to Gates: 4 to 49, 17 to 77, 19 to 69, 37 to 56. IDK…he hasn’t had a ton of work and he still misses games. Worries me.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I think we all saw flashes of why they signed him.

    I don’t expect Tomlin/Colbert to come out and say he was a failure because he had a major concussion. That said, it’s iffy at best that Green will be able to play 16-19 games next year. This draft is reported to have several kids with this skillset…they would be short sided not to draft one.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    I don’t think Green’s ability was ever being questioned. The question all along had to do with his ability to be on the field. In that respect, fears were confirmed and it just doesn’t seem like any team can go into the season trusting that a player with multiple concussions will be just fine.

    This was a risky signing and will remain risky as long as he’s on the team.

  • walter

    He started out slow, timid and afraid. He even talked of his nervousness and his fear of a jinx. But thats ok. Its kind of a normal reaction. And everynone is in agreement that he played well. Nobody is disagreeing with that. The problem is and Colbert seemed to imply that he may still be suffering from head issues. And im not sure Green is being completely honest with the team. I also dont see Green taking one for the team and some people seem to have no problem if he gets paid to sit on the bench and protect himself from possible future injury.. Im not one of them.

  • steelburg

    No question about it he is a dynamic player when on the field, but that seems to be the issue. I think Green will come into camp in great shape and highly motivated to prove he belongs. But the health concerns will remain until he basically goes the whole year without missing significant time with a concussion IMO.

  • Iulo

    and that’s exactly I don’t understand why HC and FO are hesitant about his future…
    for me is clear, cut him…
    I don’t care what he will do with his life but in this division he has zero chances
    but so far as I know, there is no difference to cut him now or in june(?)… so maybe PIT is just waiting the right time to cut him 🙂

  • Michael Mosgrove

    theyve also been happy to keep sham…arko. kept cortez allen way past time, jarvis jones et al.

  • Conserv_58

    “Ya can’t make the club from the tub.” Very prophetic words, indeed.

  • Conserv_58

    I wonder what that breaks down to as it relates to how much he made for just 140 snaps.

  • Michael Pennant

    You guys are nuts. You want to get rid of a player (and a TE at that), that avg. more than 17ypc. Instead of focusing on the positives most want to label him as unreliable. It was an unfortunate hit to the head that wasn’t even flagged as I remember. He just needs to be more careful over the middle of the field and get down as soon as they have a hold of you. It almost happened to AB several times last year, where he was trying to get extra yards and a defender comes flying in for the kill shot. Luckily he was able to get down. I think LG and JJ takes our offense to another level. My goodness when we get everybody back AND everybody healthy whose gonna stop BB, AB, MB, LB, JJ and LG but themselves(execution) or poor play calling.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I see no reason why they wouldn’t be happy with his play, he made major contributions WHEN HE WAS ON THE FIELD. He needs to be at OTAs and show he is healthy. If he still has symptoms, we may have a problem with him never recovering.

    I was one who was promoting drafting a TE to make sure we don’t lose this kind of weapon, but I am now hedging that bet some. I think I’d rather they just roll the dice here unless we don’t think Bryant is coming back. James as a possession guy will be fine if you have WR weapons, but if Bryant gets hurt we need Green to be that 2nd threat receiving to take the pressure off Brown. He forces the safety to not be able to roll the coverage to Brown.

  • capehouse

    Lol well I think he pocketed $6 mil in salary and bonus money, so that’s about $43k per snap. Not a bad living ha!

  • Michael Pennant

    Those games played resemble LeVeon Bell numbers and we are not suggesting getting rid of him after 2 suspensions and 2 injuries in 4 years and at the RB position (the best in the league). You should be way more worried about trying to give a RB with those numbers the franchise tag and/or a max contract for his position. Green was coming of off season ankle surgery that didn’t heal fast enough for most, then he gets illegally hit in the head and gets a concussion and most want to dump him. Dale Earnhardt Jr(NASCAR’s most popular driver) sat out 3/4 of the season because of a concussion from a wreck that looked more like a fender bender by most nascar standards. Point is, it does take some people longer than others to recover, so give the guy some slack and Steeler Nation support that he is on the mend and will come back better than before.

  • NinjaMountie

    He’s had to recover EVERY year he’s been in the NFL. Also, yes, Bell’s reliability is very concerning to me as well and I am one of the ones that would think twice about signing Bell long term.
    I can’t believe that people don’t figure in reliability when talking about a player’s production/retention.

  • TroymanianDevil

    I think everyone was happy with his play.. The issue was how often he played.

    I don’t think anyone is questioning his ability. It’s the injuries. And it’s interesting b/c with almost any other injury, I think people would be more optimistic. But head injuries are so hard to project long term… I think everyone in Steeler Nation is hoping he plays next season injury free

  • NinjaMountie

    It was a routine tackle.

  • RickM

    I think the contrast between his Golson and Green comments are not surprising, but interesting. He says that ‘nothing can be counted on from a player injured two straight years’ with respect to Golson. But with Green, he avoided mentioning his on-going concussion issues. I am surprised the media didn’t ask if he is worried about the cumulative effect of his concussion history, as it’s awfully relevant.

  • Dave explained it but my memory is foggy. I believe they save more this year if they do post June 1st cut but will be on the hook for more next year. If they cut him now, he eats up more cap this year but not so much next year, forget the numbers but the margins are big for each. From Klberts comments you can bank on him being with the team this year. I guess one more season is worth seeing if you can salvage your investment. But if it’s more of the same, I’ll be pretty annoyed if he’s back in 18 again

  • $333,333.33 per reception. Not very easy on the wallet

  • popsiclesticks

    You save less than $2 mil cutting him. I’d give him another chance because he could be the difference if some of those games are in the playoffs and that’s worth the money to me.

  • popsiclesticks

    Or tested for.

  • DirtDawg1964

    There is no need to cut him. The Patriots aren’t cutting Gronk, are they? At this stage the Steelers have nothing but upside in keeping him. His impact to the cap, next year, won’t change that much whether he is on or off the roster. He is also a dynamic and explosive player who can change how defenders play you. No opposing defence is accounting for James; but they’d have to account for Green.

    Getting rid of him now only creates a huge hole in the line up you either live with or feel compelled to fill through the draft or burning FA dollars that are less plentiful because you just cut a guy.

    And you might say, but they could be in the position where they don’t have him anyway. And all that does is prove the point to keep him because I’d rather have the possibility he could be out than the reality he is out. To me, the former gives you far more roster strength than the latter. But most fans don’t see it that way.

  • capehouse

    He counts $6.1 mil against the cap this year. If you cut him post June 1st then the Steelers save $5 mil of that this year. There’ll be $1.1 mil charge in dead money in 2017 and $2.3 mil in dead money in 2018. According to OTC anyway.

  • PaeperCup

    Aside from the Groin issue which might be attributed to workload, his injuries are not re-occurring types and have clear origins and recovery. I don’t like the type of injuries that Green gets. The concussions obviously are a concern, especially how long the last one caused him to be out.

  • PaeperCup

    I agree. I’m more concerned about Green than I am Golson. First off, we have more $ invested in Green. But those concussions essentially put a shelf life on him. Now maybe we don’t know the extent of Golson’s injury, but I hope to think that his injuries are things of the past and the only thing we have to worry about is it affecting his speed of play and new injuries.

  • popsiclesticks

    Whoops. Even at $2.7 mil savings, my sentiment is the same. Splitting a cap hit into two years doesn’t make it go away so I am counting it as $3.4 mil either way.

  • NinjaMountie

    I hear you, bro. Still, injuries be injuries, and it’s never good especially with the short life of a RB.

  • PaeperCup

    very true about the RB shelf-life. You don’t want to shorten the already short career of a RB.

  • capehouse

    Kinda flawed thinking because you really are saving $5 mil this year. Yeah you’ll still owe him more money in 2018 but if you take another chance with him this year and it doesn’t work out then you’re on the hook for $6.1 mil this year, and when you go to cut him in 2018 you’ll still have $2.4 mil in dead money owed. At that point you just paid him $8.5 mil when you could have cut the cord at $3.5 mil the year before. The difference? 5 mil. Is that worth taking a chance on him this year? Only the doctors and the Steelers can answer that.

  • RickM

    Agree. I’m hoping for the best for him but Green just seems too fragile. Golson, who knows, he could put both the injuries in the rear-view mirror.

  • Matthew Marczi

    So, it’s still the same amount of dead money whether it’s accounted for this year or next year. Those few millions won’t make a difference in March anyway. You don’t get those savings until June 1st even if you designate somebody a post-June cut right now.

  • Matthew Marczi

    A lot of people consistently questioned his ability here when he got back on the field. Several different people used words like “wimp” and worse to describe his play in spite of his racking up 30-yard receptions.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Shamarko = valuable special-teams contributor
    Cortez Allen = injuries that eroded effectiveness, guaranteed money with little savings
    Jarvis Jones = guaranteed contract, literally no point in cutting him

  • Matthew Marczi

    It wasn’t a routine tackle. Tackle routines don’t include hits to the head or hitting your head on the ground.

  • NinjaMountie

    I can’t tell if you are joking. If so, I apologize in advance for giving you a hard time. Tackling doesn’t include hits to the head or head hitting the ground? What game did you play because it doesn’t sound like the football I played. Almost every tackle I was involved in, being tackler or tackled, involved both of those things.

  • Matthew Marczi

    You said it was a routine tackle. If you’re tackling in the proper manner then a routine tackle outside the box doesn’t initiate head-to-head contact.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Guess I wouldn’t want to be buying a used car from Colbert.

  • NinjaMountie

    I admire the nfl for trying to protect the players. However, we both know their tackling rules are a mess. Good in theory but horrible in application. Im referring to how refs call it.
    The reality is that tackling involves getting your head smacked around…almost every single time.
    I think LG is a talent at TE. I also think he will be on the roster next season. I will also be willing to bet he misses at least a few games due to concussion.

  • capehouse

    I’m sure they could find a way to use the $5 mil after June 1st like extending Tuitt’s contract.

  • Matthew Marczi

    In the meantime, they can keep Green on the roster to see how his status is.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Seriously? To describe his play.
    Not arguing, I didn’t see that. I saw many questioning his toughness, which is likely unfair as well.

    It just doesn’t seem like a very smart signing from the aspect that he’s a hit away, in closer terms than most players, from being retired early. Never seemed a talent issue to me.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Yes, unfortunately I saw more than a few comments in that vein over the span of several articles about Green. As for the logic behind the signing, it’s fair to question given his concussion history, certainly, although let’s remember that the offseason speculation was never substantiated, and that he seemed recovered after the two concussions he suffered in 2015. Of course, we saw at the end of this past season how significant a concussion can become that might seem rather innocuous compared to others when a history of concussions is involved.

  • David

    I made a similar comment on a previous Green thread, but the Steelers coaches need to work on correcting Green’s tendency to lead with his head when running into contact. Between his height and the threat of penalty for high hits on receivers, if Green ran with his head up his odds of being concussed as a receiver would drop steeply. The last concussion was (from a game situation standpoint) unnecessary — and almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if Green hadn’t jeopardized his own head by putting it down.

    If the Steelers can protect their investment this way, and keep Green on the field, I think Green can give them returns better than the 2016 flashes. This past season Green missed OTAs, camp, and weeks of practice, and still didn’t look 100% confident in his surgically-repaired ankle — meaning his speed and leaping ability are likely to improve going forward. Which gives him upside in YAC and in goal-to-go situations we haven’t seen yet.