Last week saw a lot of under the radar activity by the Steelers in free agency.
The Steelers resigned tight end Zach Gentry. As news of the deal broke on a Saturday, there are no contract details. They also signed offensive tackle Le’Raven Clark from the Tennessee Titans, making him the 3rd ex-Eagles offensive lineman to follow Andy Wedil to Pittsburgh.
That latter move was necessary, as the Steeler lost offensive tackle Trent Scott to the Washington Commanders. They saw wide receiver and kick returner Steven Sims sign with to the Houston Texans. And of course the Eagles struck back, a bit at least, by signing Terrell Edmunds away from the Steelers.
We covered Terrell Edmunds’ departure at length here, today we’ll take a look at the other moves.
One for One Replacements and Votes of Confidence
Le’Raven Clark brings 6 years and 64 games with 18 starts to Pittsburgh, having played for the Colts, Eagles and most recently the Titans. That’s a very similar to Trent Scott, and based on that resume its clear that Clark is seen as a backup. This is a 1 for 1 depth replacement, and should do nothing to alter the Steelers (God willing) plans to add a tackle with one of their premium picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.
- The loss of Steven Sims isn’t terribly surprising.
He’s shown himself to be a solid returner and a wide receiver with serviceable skills. The Steelers left him, along with James Pierre unprotected as a restricted free again. Omar Khan won his gamble and got James Pierre back, but has now lost Sims.
The fact that the Steelers left him unprotected also has to be seen as a vote of confidence for Gunner Olszewski. Sims replaced Gunner as the return man after Gunner Olszewski’s fumbling issues followed him from New England to Pittsburgh.
- The biggest surprise of the week was the decision to resign Zach Gentry.
The Steelers drafted Gentry as a project in 2019. Injures limited him greatly in his first two years, but he had a strong 2021 season, looking like a legit number 2 tight end along side Pat Freiermuth . He really didn’t make much of a leap in 2022 with and the emergence of Connor Heyward appeared to make him expendable.
- Obviously, Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan see it differently.
Still, the decision to resign him is understandable, given the fact that the Steelers don’t have a 5th round or a 6th round pick in this spring’s draft, which is about where you’d find a backup tight end.