Boy, the Pittsburgh Steelers sure love bringing their players back after they pursue greener pastures via free agency only to get cut when their new employer realizes that they are overpaid. And these players love coming back when they realize they already had it good.
The latest former Steeler to once again become a current Steeler is tight end Matt Spaeth, a former third round selection from 2007. It was head coach Mike Tomlin’s third draft pick as a head coach, the first two being linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley.
Spaeth, who signed on with the Chicago Bears after the 2010 season, spent the last two seasons with the team primarily as a blocking tight end, where he honed his skills.
According to Pro Football Focus, Spaeth was the best tight end in the league in run blocking, and also rated highly in pass blocking, and this will again likely be his main obligations in his second stint with the Steelers.
His signing is especially crucial when considering the injury to Heath Miller, the team’s starting, Pro Bowl tight end. A former first round pick from 2005, Miller suffered a torn ACL in week 16 in 2012 and there is no prognosis or timetable for his recovery.
It is certainly possible that he begins the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which would require him to sit out the first six games of the season. Last season, the Steelers brought in former Todd Haley favorite Leonard Pope as a backup tight end, but he was quickly demoted in a matter of weeks in favor of rookie seventh round pick David Paulson, and is certainly not likely to return.
In addition, the team also released tight end Weslye Saunders upon his completion of serving a four-game suspension at the beginning of the year. The release was met with surprise by the Pittsburgh media due to the perceived potential in Saunders, and many regard the move as a mistake, believing Pope should have been released instead.
Currently on the roster and healthy before the signing of Spaeth was just Paulson and practice squad tight end/fullback hybrid Jamie McCoy. The team also re-signed tight end fullback hybrid David Johnson, who missed the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL and is still himself recovering, as is Miller, of course.
The Steelers now have depth at the position to withstand any delays in Miller’s recovery with Spaeth, Paulson, and Johnson at the position, though they certainly hope that Miller will be ready to go to start the season after having a career year in 2012.
Like this article? Then please subscribe to this author’s articles about the NFL by clicking the subscribe button next to the author’s name or here to receive an e-mail notification whenever a new article is posted.