In Kevin Colbert’s 21 years making personnel decisions for the Pittsburgh Steelers, this was probably his worst free agency signing.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are seen as the model franchise of the NFL. They have the Super Bowl titles and are in playoff contention nearly every year. Plenty of credit can be given to Kevin Colbert, who has made personnel decisions since 2000 as the director of football operations and won two Super Bowl titles.
While Colbert has had success, he has whiffed on some player signings. When it comes to the worst contract he has ever handed out, you have to look back in 2016 when the team signed tight end Ladarius Green.
Ladarius Green viewed as the consensus worst free agency signing by Colbert
Green had made a name for himself as the then-San Diego Chargers’ backup tight end behind legend Antonio Gates. In 2015, Green caught 37-of-63 targets for 429 yards and four touchdowns. With Steelers mainstay Heath Miller retiring at the end of the 2015 campaign, Colbert pivoted to finding his successor, who he deemed to be Green, giving him a four-year, $20 million contract that included a $4.75 million signing bonus.
Green underwent ankle surgery that offseason prior to his signing, which played a role in him being held out until Week 10 of the season. The other factor was Green reportedly dealing with headaches stemming from his concussion issues, per NFL.com. Green had suffered two concussions in an 11-day span with the Chargers in September of 2015.
Green would only play six games with the Steelers, before he suffered a concussion in Pittsburgh’s Week 15 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. That would be the end of Green’s season, as the Steelers made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game without him. The following offseason, Colbert opted to release Green from his contract altogether.
In his six-game slate (two starts), Green caught 18-of-34 targets for 304 yards and one touchdown.
Considering Miller was a consistent piece in Pittsburgh’s passing game and served as the security blanket for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Colbert thought that Green could serve in that same role. Unfortunately, it backfired on him spectacularly.