Pittsburgh Steelers: Tight end possibilities following Vance McDonald trade

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13: Tight end Vance McDonald
GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13: Tight end Vance McDonald /

After trading for yet another tight end, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a variety of options within their depth chart.

If you haven’t heard the news, Vance McDonald has been acquired by the Steelers along with a fifth round pick for a fourth round pick. McDonald adds another possibility in the tight end room.

So here are the different possibilities as we look at the role Vance McDonald will play. It looks as though McDonald will compete with Jesse James for the starting tight end position. Mike Tomlin was very non-descriptive about the role McDonald will play saying only that he will compete for a role. Either way, it looks as though the two could be used together to create a matchup problem for defenses. With McDonald and James, the two could be used to make defenses cover two tight ends in 12 personnel.

That leaves a couple different options for how the bottom half of the tight end group will be constructed on the roster. There is a possibility that the Steelers carry four tight ends with the other two being Xavier Grimble and David Johnson.

There is also a more likely scenario that Grimble and Johnson are competing for the third tight end job. Neither is that big of an asset on special teams; so, their offensive capabilities will be assessed. David Johnson is more the asset in the blocking department while Grimble is another pass catching option.

If I had to predict what would happen right now, I would guess the Steelers keep Johnson as a run blocker. The Steelers have typically carved out a role like this that has included either Matt Spaeth or David Johnson over the years. I also think the Steelers have enough need at other positions to keep four tight ends. It would be a different scenario if any of these tight ends were much of an asset on special teams.

Next: Analyzing the Steelers secondary in 2017

This is somewhat of a plot twist for Xavier Grimble. He has one of his better games in his Steelers career catching a touchdown and the beginning of next week they acquire a replacement for him. For the Steelers, McDonald should be an upgrade over Grimble and may be an upgrade over Jesse James.