Before the 2016 season, the Steelers signed Ladarius Green as a free agent in hopes of keeping the tight end position as a key one in the wake of Heath Miller’s retirement.
Green missed a lot of time after offseason ankle surgery, however, and ended the year in the concussion protocol, leaving the Steelers without much to show for their rare dip into the veteran free agent pool. They released Green this offseason and are moving on with Jesse James and Xavier Grimble in line for significant playing time.
James, a 2015 fifth-round pick, has 47 catches through two seasons and Grimble, who was undrafted out of USC in 2015, had 11 catches in his first regular season action last year. James said the duo is “ready to step up and make the plays we’re asked to make” and offensive coordinator Todd Haley shares that expectation.
“Jesse will be a year better with lot of playing time last year. Xavier, same thing,” Haley said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He’s a guy who wasn’t even sure he was going to make the team going into last year, made it and then contributed for us. They are young guys. Until you see them through that full third year, I think it should be expected there will be a great deal of improvement.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took issue with a report that he wanted the team to add a tight end this offseason. If James and Grimble fulfill Haley’s expectations, there probably won’t be a need to do the same in 2018.