Despite witnessing Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller shred his knee last season, recently seeing tight end Matt Spaeth go down with a foot injury, and having wide receiver Plaxico Burress put on the shelf due to season-ending shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff, the Pittsburgh Steelers are not expected to pursue a tight end via free agency before the regular season gets underway.
In addition, tight end David Johnson, who tore his ACL in the 2012 preseason, is currently on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list because of arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Johnson should be back before the end of this year’s preseason.
The decision to not seek a free-agent tight end is a risky one if you ask me. Even though Johnson should be healthy for 2013, the timetable for Miller is still uncertain, and it’s unclear how Spaeth will respond after being sidelined for virtually the next two months. Furthermore, David Paulson, who is currently the starting tight end, hardly has any experience in the league.
The Steelers’ group of active receivers and tight ends are very young and are lacking veteran leadership. Adding an experienced tight end would greatly benefit the offense, at least until Miller is able to get back into the mix.
Pittsburgh has already missed the opportunity on claiming Dallas Clark, who signed with the division rival Baltimore Ravens. Even if the Steelers do decide to go after a tight end via free agency, they will find that the pickings are slim.
The only notable names, as far as tight ends, are Kevin Boss, Todd Heap, and Jeremy Shockey. All three of these players have legitimate league experience, and Boss and Shockey can bring a championship attitude to the team.
I’m not saying that Boss, Heap, and Shockey are the only tight ends that Pittsburgh should look at. What I am generally saying is that the Steelers shouldn’t just eliminate the possibility of testing the free-agent market before the regular season starts. Their tight end situation is a bit on the chaotic side, and having a solid backup plan would greatly help.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+