Bills ‘Interested’ in Former Steelers, Lions Tight End

Jesse James

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Jesse James of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after an 8-yard touchdown reception against the Carolina Panthers on November 8, 2018.

It’s been a month since the Detroit Lions released former Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James. Considering the lack of success he experienced during his two years in Detroit, it’s no surprise that teams aren’t racing to sign him. But according to Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network, the Buffalo Bills are a potential suitor. Pauline recently noted that “[t]he Bills are interested, but per my sources, they are not close to a contract. It may be a situation where the Bills or another team agree to a deal with James on Day 3 of the draft if they can’t come away with a tight end in Rounds 2-4.”

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That sounds like a reasonable approach for teams to take, and that’s why James doesn’t figure to sign anywhere until the 2021 NFL Draft (April 30-May 1) comes to a close.

Pittsburgh’s Tight End Situation

Notably, the Steelers would seem to be in need of either a No. 2 or No. 3 at the position, depending on how you view the tight ends currently on the roster.

Eric Ebron is the pass-catching starter, but as of this moment, it doesn’t seem like the Steelers plan to keep him beyond this coming season. In fact, the team recently re-worked his contract to lower his 2021 cap hit by $3.9 million, while also adding voidable years to his deal.

Next up on the depth chart is former fifth-round pick Zach Gentry (Michigan), who is entering his third season with the team but has made little impact to date.

The Steelers also have a potential No. 2/No. 3 tight end in Kevin Radar, who was added to Pittsburgh’s 53-man roster on November 24 of last year after he spent the first two-and-a-half months of the season on the practice squad. He went on to make his NFL debut in the season-finale against the Cleveland Browns, and also played in the playoff tilt against Cleveland.

The only other tight ends on the roster are: Charles Jones II, who was signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad in November and inked a one-year Reserve/Future deal with the Steelers in January; and Dax Raymond, who was signed by the Steelers last summer and has also been brought back on a Reserve/Future contract.

Jesse James a Candidate to Return to Pittsburgh?

That said, the Steelers would theoretically be a good spot for James to try to continue his NFL career, except comments he made upon leaving for Detroit may keep him from getting that chance. Recall that right after he played his last game for the Steelers he compared the organization to the Kardashians, complaining about the “[drama] popping up weekly.”

Then after he signed a four-year, $22 million contract with the Lions, he said, “I feel like things could have been better [in Pittsburgh]. Offensively, I wasn’t used the way I feel I could be used here. I feel like my ceiling here is going to be much higher than it was in the past.”

Of course, that turned out not to be true. In 32 games with the Lions, James made 18 starts but contributed just 30 receptions for 271 yards and two touchdowns. This as compared to the 120 catches for 1,189 yards and nine touchdowns that he produced during his four seasons in Pittsburgh.

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