Shall the last be the least? Steelers tight end Michael Palmer is the last unrestricted free agent profiled in our Steelers 2015 Free Agent Focus. Does that mean that Steelers tight end Michael Palmer needs to begin his “Life’s Work?” Not necessarily. In fact, there’s a real case to be made the the Steelers should resign this free agent tight end. Let’s look at why.
Capsule Profile of Michael Palmer with the Steelers
Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert will not look back in the Steelers 2013 training camp fondly. Salary Cap purgatory had forced him into pulling off the NFL personnel man’s variant of the loaves and the fishes, populating the ranks of the Steelers back up offensive lineman with the Guy Whimpers of the world.
- Heath Miller was returning from an ACL injury. So was tight end David Johnson. And that was before the new injuries started.
Undrafted rookie free agent offensive lineman Nik Embernate’s shot at NFL glory ended before it began. Plaxico Burress injured his shoulder, meaning second Steelers stint would consist of 4 games and 3 catches. Le’Veon Bell injured his lisfranc. So did Matt Spaeth.
- That left David Paulson as the Steelers number 1 healthy tight end.
Colbert took to the wavier wire, and brought in Michael Palmer, whom the Atlanta Falcons had recently cut. At the time Palmer was little more than a body, someone to hold space in practice.
- But Palmer not only did enough to make the team, he played well enough to weather the activations of both Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth.
The Steelers brought Palmer back to camp a year later, and few predicted he would make the final roster. Except Palmer did make it. Not only did he make the final roster, but he scored the Steelers only offensive touchdown in Pittsburgh’s narrow victory over Jacksonville.
The Case for Steeler Keeping Michael Palmer
The Steelers have Miller and Spaeth, and by all accounts will target tight end high in the 2015 NFL Draft, as they should. They also have 7th round pick Rob Branchflower from the 2014 NFL Draft.
- That doesn’t appear to leave a lot of room for Palmer.
And it doesn’t. But Palmer wasn’t supposed to make the team in 2014. Yet he beat out Branchflower and Paulson. The Steelers should be able to get Palmer at a low or even no risk veteran minimum deal. They have nothing to lose by bringing him back to camp.
The Case Against Steelers Keeping Michael Palmer
The case against the Steelers keeping Michael Palmer comes down to roster spots. Keeping Palmer means another promising player, either at tight end or at some other position of need, say outside linebacker, is going to have to need to be sacrificed.
- If the Steelers resign Palmer, they’ll likely have to pay a him a bonus, even if it is a small one.
The bonus won’t ensure him makes the 53 man roster, but will mean that he comes to Latrobe, at the cost of some other young man’s chance to prove himself on the fields of St. Vincients. That’s too high of a cost.
Curtain’s Call on Steelers and Michael Palmer
“Fate of Steelers tight end Michael Palmer” isn’t exactly on everyone’s tongues in Steelers Nation. And, as we said yesterday regarding Ben Tate, no should it be.
- But as Dale Lolley mentioned, Palmer is the type of player you look and think you’ll cut, but at the end of it all, he does just enough to warrant a roster spot.
There’s something to be said for the resiliency of guys who make their career’s working as the 52nd and 53rd men on NFL rosters. Michael Palmer’s one of those, and he’s earned a shot at least defending that status. Bring him to St. Vincents for one more summer and, in the words of Mike Tomlin, “Let the play speak for itself.”
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