The Pittsburgh Steelers aggressive approach to free agency quick turned its efforts outside of the organization in a move that saw the Steelers sign tight end Ladarius Green to a four year contract, per reports by Neal Coolong of USA Today’s The Steelers Wire, and the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson.
Ladarius Green Steelers deal: $20M total, $4.75M signing bonus, salaries $1.25M, $5M, $4.5M, $4.5M
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 10, 2016
If Wilson’s reporting is correct, Ladarius Green’s contract continued a $4.75 million dollar signing bonus along with base salaries in the 5 million dollar range, save for the first year. Per numbers on the site Over the Cap, Green’s 5 million dollar annual salary with the Steelers would put him at about 18th out of all 2015 tight end salaries. His 5 million in guaranteed money would rank him at 24th.
- In lay terms, the Steelers are making a significant, yet relatively safe investment.
This may not amount to the type of “Splash” Steelers free agency move that some fans have longed for, but it does fit the franchise model of going out to the free agent market and paying a competitive salary to fill a need. They did it with Kevin Greene in the 1990’s, Jeff Hartings in 2001, Ryan Clark in 2006 and Mike Mitchell in 2014.
Ladarius Green has Gigantic Shoes to Fill
And the Steelers certainly do have a need to fill. Heath Miller is now enjoying we well deserved retirement, but when Heath Miller retired, Ben Roethlisberger lost his most reliable target – by a wide margin.
Now it will fall to Ladarius Green to become Ben Roethlisberger’s go to man in the middle of the field. During the time he was in Pittsburgh, Heath Miller caught 72% of the passes that were targeted to him, second only to Le’Veon Bell. For comparison’s sake, Ladarius Green’s career targets to catches ratio is 63%.
- That doesn’t mean that Green is a bad pick up, but it proves just how big a set of shoes that he has to fill.
The San Diego Chargers drafted Ladarius Green in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He only caught four passes as a rookie, but installed himself as a starter from his second year on, and has caught 77 passes for 1087 yards and 7 touchdowns in his career.
He caught 5 of those passes against Pittsburgh in the Steelers Monday Night win against the Chargers. Ladarius Green stands at 6-6 and weighs 237 pounds and is known for what Mike Tomlin described as “Vertical speed.”
Welcome to Steelers Nation Ladarius Green.