Pittsburgh Steelers cut tight end Ladarius Green
The Ladarius Green experiment is over in Pittsburgh.
The team announced Thursday they released the tight end with a failed physical designation.
Green signed a four-year, $20 million contract last season, he earned $6 million of the deal before being cut. Jettisoning the 26-year-old cost the Steelers $3.5 million in dead money, per wholesalenfljerseyslan.com.
The splash signing paid little dividends for Pittsburgh as Green battled injuries, playing in just six games, making two starts. In one season with the Steelers, the tight end caught 18 passes for 304 yards and one touchdown.
Signed to be a seam-stretching threat to replace the retired Heath Miller, Green battled injuries and continuing concussion issues. The tight end had documented concussion history during his four years in San Diego before signing with Pittsburgh. He also underwent ankle surgery last March.
While adding the athletic, pass-catching tight end made perfect sense from a schematic sense, the concussion and ankle problems proved faulty.
After being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round, T.J. has been compared ad nausea to his three-time Defensive Player of the Year award-winning brother. On Thursday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told NBC Sports the team wants T.J. to be his own person, not try to emulate J.J.
“They do share that same work ethic, that’s nothing but a positive,” Colbert said, per Pro Football Talk. “But make no mistake, T.J., I mean, he’s proud of his name, he loves his brothers, but he wants to be known more as T.J. than he does as a Watt. We’re aware of it, we appreciate it, we respect where he’s from, but he and us are eager to see him make his own name.”
Sometimes younger siblings can drown trying to live up to the expectations set by an older brother. Sometimes the younger family members thrive plowing through the already worn path. And still, sometimes the older one’s path is a weed-filled disaster that younger siblings would do better to avoid.
For a team like the Steelers, that has drafted versatile linebackers in nearly every first round since 2013, it was kismet to see Watt still on the board. But it’s worth wondering if Watt will be able to break out in a way none of their rush linebackers have.
With the exception of Ryan Shazier, who was a different kind of linebacker and has thrived in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense, neither Jarvis Jones nor Bud Dupree had the type of standout season that would turn heads. Dupree has 8.5 sacks over two years while Jones, who recently departed for the Arizona Cardinals in free agency, had six sacks over four seasons.
The ageless James Harrison has obviously played a factor and taken up far more snaps over the last two seasons than anyone expected. In that way, the sack numbers just might be more evenly distributed among the team’s rush linebackers.
But Watt, who is coming in at the tail end of Harrison’s career in prime position to earn some plum passing down experience, might be better positioned than the last two linebackers to have a truly great individual season.
If the Steelers are right, he will at least be prepared to do so.