Steelers have too much confidence in OT Zach Banner in 2021
By Tommy Jaggi
The Steelers recently re-signed Zach Banner to a two-year contract extension. Here’s why they have misplaced confidence in their unproven offensive tackle.
I wasn’t surprised to see most of the names that quickly snatched up in free agency. The Steelers had 19 unrestricted free agents this offseason, and considering the salary cap situation, we knew that most of them were going to be finding employment elsewhere next season.
However, after Pittsburgh was able to retain Ben Roethlisberger on a team-friendly deal after re-working his contract, I thought that Pittsburgh would make a bit more of an effort trying to keep some reasonably priced players from leaving in free agency. One of which was offensive lineman Matt Feiler. Feiler was only an average football player at left guard last year, but in 2019, he proved to be a quality right tackle. After rookie Kevin Dotson started to emerge while filling in for injured players, many wondered why they didn’t start him at left guard and kick Feiler back out to right tackle – the position he is most comfortable with.
Even though Feiler was a free agent this offseason, I thought there was a reasonable chance they could get him to stay. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as he elected to sign a three-year deal worth $21 million with the Chargers. After Feiler was snatched up, the Steelers soon signed offensive tackle Zach Banner to a two-year, $9 million extension. While this doesn’t seem like a terrible price for a potential starting offensive lineman, I personally think the Steelers have too much confidence in his ability.
Steelers have misplaced confidence in Banner
Zach Banner was able to win the starting right tackle job out of training camp last year – besting Chukwuma Okorafor – as Feiler made the switch to guard. However, in the second half in his first game of the 2020 season, Banner went down with a torn ACL.
With just 2 starts by the age of 27, we have the right to question what the Steelers are seeing in Banner to offer up starter money to him. It’s not like he was utterly dominant in either performance. Prior to that, Banner would typically show up on the field late in blowout performances or when the Steelers would march on for the victory formation to run out the clock.
Banner has just over 300 career snaps and he will turn 28 years old during the 2021 season. What’s even more concerning is that Mike Tomlin has expressed interest in using him at left tackle next season – a position I don’t believe fits his skillset at all. Banner is a big, powerful offensive tackle who originally entered the league as a 353-pound player. What he lacks, however, is the foot quickness and agility to stick with speed rushers on the quarterback’s blindside.
Who knows? Banner might be able to prove himself worthy of a starting position and be well worth the money. However, it hasn’t been as easy to develop offensive linemen with Mike Munchak gone, and I just think the Steelers might have a little bit too much confidence in the big offensive tackle.