The big news from Tuesday of this week was that tight end Vance McDonald was traded from the San Fransisco 49ers to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 4th round pick.
Who is Vance McDonald?
McDonald is a 5th-year tight end out of Rice. Despite flashing some big-play potential and athleticism, his stats never stood out on a lackluster 49ers offense. This made it a slight surprise when he signed a 5-year, $32.5 million dollar contract back in December.
Why was he traded?
Then in January, the 49ers overhauled their front office and hired John Lynch as their GM and Kyle Shannahan as their head coach. In this year’s rookie draft, the 49ers selected tight end George Kittle in the 5th round out of Iowa. Kittle is a very athletic tight end who has shown out throughout this offseason. Being a player signed by the previous San Fransisco regime, the 49ers had no loyalty to McDonald. Since Kittle was having a nice offseason, getting a 4th round pick for the high-priced tight end is a fantastic move for new GM John Lynch.
What does this mean for the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Earlier this offseason we previewed the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp and Jesse James was one of the main topics of a player to watch during this preseason. The Steelers were clearly not happy with the progress they have gotten from 3rd-year tight end, Jesse James. The 6 foot 7 Penn State product had 39 catches for 338 yards and 3 scores in 2016. For a starting tight end most of the year (sans the 6 games LaDarius Green played) this is below average production. The Steelers have been missing the element to their offense that Heath Miller brought before he retired, and McDonald may just be what the doctor ordered.
The rumors have been circulating that Ben Roethlisberger may retire soon. The window is closing for Pittsburgh to make another title run, and Vance McDonald can only help.
All of the sudden, the Steelers have an armory stocked with weapons. They already have arguably the best receiver in the game in Antonio Brown. You could also argue that running back Le’Veon Bell is the best in the business. They also likely will get TD machine, Martavis Bryant, back from suspension. When you factor in McDonald, Ben Roethlisberger becomes an even more attractive option, at least for this year. McDonald should also benefit from being in a much better offense.
55 catches, 700 yards, 5 touchdowns