Vance McDonald is not the future tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The NFL Combine is more loaded with talent than any in recent in memory. This year’s draft class starts with a running back destined to be one of the best and rounding out with third and fourth round talent worthy of starting positions right off the bat.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have only a few positions they need to fill this offseason; Filling the shoes of Ryan Shazier, replacing Mike Mitchell and planning for the future. And apparently finding their next tight end.
During the first two days of combine action, Pittsburgh met with a variety of NFL bound tight ends. From early round projections like Wisconsin’s Troy Fumagalli to converted pass catchers like Washington’s Will Dissly, the Steelers found time to speak with multiple players they could be considering this April.
As of Saturday night, Pittsburgh met with Mike Gesicki, Troy Fumagalli, Will Dissly, Ian Thomas and Dallas Goedert. Lamar Jackson too, but that’s another topic.
Vance McDonald, the Steelers current starting tight end, is set to receive $4,318,750 in 2018. By no means is that a significant number for Pittsburgh, but with injury issues in 2017 and the goal of inking Le’Veon Bell to a long-term deal, any money is important money this offseason.
Which makes you wonder; are the Steelers looking to go rookie tight end over McDonald?
The Steelers need to find cap space to make a few offseason moves happen. Inside linebacker may not be a problem they solve during the draft, but rather in free agency. If that’s the case, they’ll need to find more money to bring in a veteran playmaker.
After the team releases Mike Mitchell, which seems to be the consensus surrounding their offseason cuts, they’ll free up enough cap room to get a deal done with Bell. Afterwards, though, bringing in a high profile linebacker is going to take some more cash.
Which makes McDonald a serious contender for free agency. With Jesse James not being a strong starting option, but a proven advocate to maintain balance at the position for periods of time, this team can take a chance on finding a rookie to step in.
If it doesn’t work, Pittsburgh goes back to the drawing board. If it does, they now have two tight ends under the age of 23 with bright futures ahead.
The Steelers have a lot to consider this offseason, and before this weekend, Vance McDonald seemed to not be on the list. But there were too many names to ignore, which makes you wonder; are they looking for their third tight end in three years?