The Pittsburgh Steelers released tight end Ladarius Green on Thursday, the team announced. Certainly, this move is a surprise, as Green had participated in the most recent portion of OTAs with the team, but the reason why — designation failed physical — isn’t a shock.
A year ago, the Steelers signed him to a four-year, $20 million contract, and it appeared he was the natural successor Heath Miller at the position. But Green missed the first eight games last season following ankle surgery, and he missed the final two regular-season games and all three playoff games following a concussion.
Green has a concerning injury history — including multiple concussions — dating back to his first four NFL seasons with the San Diego Chargers, for whom he only played all 16 games one time.
There had been hope he could rebound with the Steelers this season after flashing in his brief action in 2016. The fact that the Steelers failed to drat a tight end in April was seen as a good thing for Green’s future, as was the fact that two weeks ago he participated in phase 2 of the OTAs.
Still, there was a report from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette just prior to the draft that the Steelers coaches might not have much hope for Green, and clearly Thursday’s transaction confirmed that. The team is suddenly a bit thin at the position, with likely starter Jesse James backed up by a slew of question maarks — Xavier Grimble, David Johnson, Ryan Malleck, Phazahn Odom and Scott Orndoff among them.
Green, who turns 27 in a few weeks, caught 18 passes for 301 yards and a touchdown in six games last season. That score came in his best game: Week 13 against the New York Giants, when he caught six passes for 110 yards. In five NFL seasons, Green caught 95 passes for 1,391 yards and 60 touchdowns.
Taking Green’s place on the Steelers’ roster is running back Terrell Watson, who has spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles the past few seasons.
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