Steelers Make Final Decision on Veteran Pass Catcher: Report

The Pittsburgh Steelers have re-signed another one of their own free agents.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on March 25 that the Steelers have re-signed tight end Zach Gentry.

TE Zach Gentry going back to #Steelers, per source.

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 25, 2023

Gentry posted 19 receptions for 132 receiving yards in 2022. The financial details of his contract were not disclosed.

Steelers Re-Sign TE Zach Gentry

The 26-year-old tight end made it clear at the beginning of free agency that he would prefer to return to the Steelers.

“We’ll see how it all ends up, but I would definitely be happy to remain in Pittsburgh,” said Gentry in an interview with Van Tate of KRQE Sports in Albuquerque.

“We’ll see. I would be surprised if Pittsburgh didn’t do the necessary things to try to keep me there. But, you know, at the end of the day, it’s a business.”

As it turned out, the Steelers did do what was necessary.

Gentry started a career-high 13 games during the 2022 season. He also started 12 contests in 2021.

In 40 career games, Gentry has posted 39 catches for 303 yards.

He hasn’t been very involved in the offense. Over the past two seasons, Gentry has averaged 1.41 targets per game.

But when targeted, Gentry has caught 79.6% of the passes thrown at him during his career. Last season, he recorded an 82.6% catch percentage.

That was ranked second on the Steelers among players with more than 5 targets last season.

Gentry was an early favorite target of quarterback Kenny Pickett. Gentry received a career-high 6 target, bringing in 5 of them, in Pickett’s first career start.

How Gentry Still Fits With the Steelers

Gentry is never going to light up the stat sheet.

Next season, it’s possible he could be called upon even less as a pass catcher. Fellow tight end Connor Heyward started to play more at the end of the 2022 season, and wide receiver Calvin Austin is expected to return healthy this year.

Gentry, though, should continue to see snaps because of his blocking ability.

In 2021, Pro Football Focus ranked Gentry a top 5 pass blocker and above average run blocker. He didn’t post as good of blocking grades during 2022, but Gentry did have a very good PFF grade in pass protection in 12 of 17 games last season.

Fellow tight end Pat Freiermuth is also a strong pass blocker, but he is the Steelers’ best receiving tight end. So Gentry should continue to have a role in double-tight end sets and in situations that call for a blocking tight end.

With the re-signing of Gentry, the Steelers have now brought back four of their own free agents on new contracts. General manager Omar Khan has also re-signed defensive end Larry Ogunjobi, safety Damontae Kazee and cornerback James Pierre.

Gentry is also the first skilled player the Steelers have signed this offseason. Khan has added several defenders and offensive linemen to the roster, but no running backs, wide receivers or tight ends before Gentry.

Free agent wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. left in free agency, signing with the Houston Texans on March 24.

With Gentry, the Steelers now have three tight ends on their roster.

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