Where does Steelers Connor Heyward fit after addition of Darnell Washington?

Steelers, Connor Heyward
Steelers, Connor Heyward / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With the Steelers addition of Darnell Washington at tight end, there is now an open question about how the Steelers will use the combination tight end/fullback Connor Heyward. Conner Heyward, the baby brother of Cam Heyward, kind of became a fan favorite last season for several reasons.

You had that natural sibling rivalry between Cam and Connor, plus late in the season, Cam did make two or three big plays for the Steelers, despite minimal use over the season. Thus when the Steelers drafted Washington, the question of what would happen to Heyward was on the mind of many fans.

Well, there are a few possibilities of what could happen. It seems or would seem unlikely Connor Heyward gets cut, but it’s something Mike Tomlin would have to consider with four tight ends on the roster. Will he want to carry that many into the regular season? It wouldn’t be uncommon to have three tight ends on the roster, but the decision would probably be between Connor Heyward and Zach Gentry. Or instead of cutting him, they could put him on the practice squad.


How the Steelers could utilize Connor Heyward in 2023

However, another scenario allows the Steelers to carry four tight ends. This scenario would make use of Heyward as the H-back. An H-back is a cross between a fullback and a tight end. The H-back lines up in the backfield between where the fullback and the tight end would generally line up. Sometimes some people reference the H-back as a fullback despite the fact they are technically different positions.

Of course, interestingly, the Steelers did not use Heyward as the H-back in 2022. They lined him up in the tight end position and did not try to utilize his H-back capabilities. Arthur Moats did give his opinion on Heyward, and he feels he is the team's only true H-back, and it would make sense for the Steelers to use him in that capacity.

With the Steelers losing Derek Watt, the Steelers do have an open spot at the fullback position. One would think that since the Steelers added Washington, they would simply transition Heyward into the fullback position.

It would make sense, however, then the Steelers went and signed Iowa fullback Monte Pottebaum as an undrafted free agent as they loved his blocking abilities as a fullback. Did the Steelers really need to sign Pottebaum? No, you already know what you have in Connor Heyward, but it seems if they do transition Heyward to fullback, they are going to make him earn it.

When he addressed the Connor Heyward situation, Arthur Moats still felt the Steelers would keep him, but will it be as a tight end, H-back, or fullback? We will have to wait and see in training camp. Although Motes brought up the point keeping Heyward makes sense from a depth perspective even if they keep him as a tight end.

Suppose they did not keep Heyward and say Freiermuth gets injured. In that case, it only leaves the Steelers Washington and Gentry, but if they keep Heyward and Freiermuth going down, it still gives the Steelers the flexibility of still using three tight ends depending on what they want to run.

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The Steelers will have decisions to make in training camp. That could come down to performance; however, somehow, you would have to think, even then, they will keep Heyward, as he has shown lots of potential going forward. It would seem unlikely he’s hit his ceiling as a player just yet. You will certainly want to monitor Heyward's situation as training camp progresses.