Jesse James’ four-year deal has come to an end, but his career in Pittsburgh should not end with it. There are countless reasons for why I believe this, the first of which is because he is a consistent performer. This is evidenced all the way from Junior High, through College and until now.
Prospect From Pennsylvania
A native of Pennsylvania, James attended South Allegheny Middle/Senior High where he rose to prominence in both basketball and football. There he was named to the First Team All-Century Conference as a tight end in both his Junior and Senior years. By the conclusion of his tenure at the school, he was ranked no.3 at the position across the US.
He continued to remain true to his roots, electing to attend Penn State for the 2012 season. That year, he averaged 18.4 yards per catch on 15 receptions for 276 yards. He also caught a season-high 5 touchdown passes. The next two years his production continued to rise, as did the reps he was awarded. Despite the fact that James declared for the 2015 NFL Draft, he finished his career for Penn State with 78 receptions for 1005 yards and 11 touchdowns. Subsequently he was ranked as the fifth most talented tight end available on the draft board.
One thing for me jumps out at those statistics and the overall ranking of his talents. Evidently, he isn’t a flashy player who dominates the game statistically. That said, he’s a player that coaches love. His dedication and commitment to his craft is undeniable, and most importantly, he never ceases to perform on the biggest stage. This, among other qualities, is what makes him a fan favourite in a city that values a good work ethic more than talent, like that of Pittsburgh. If you need evidence of this affection towards Jesse, just listen to the echo of “HEATH” after every big play he makes.
The PIT Years
With the 160th pick in the fifth round, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Jesse James. The selection made James the de facto heir to Heath Miller’s throne. And although he featured fairly minimally in his rookie year, he garnered the starting spot for 2016. Making the most of the opportunity, he notched 338 yards on 39 receptions. He also caught 3 touchdown passes. In the following two years, he served largely as the backup to Vance McDonald. In those years he produced 795 yards and 5 touchdowns on 73 receptions, combining for an average of 10.9 yards per catch. If his career as a Steeler was to end when he becomes a free agent however, he would have participated in 56 games (36 starts), compiling 1189 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns on 120 catches.
Despite his role on the team, it must be noted once again how effective Jesse has performed. He produces positive results each game, often stepping up when others step off. As evidenced, he also possesses all the core values that make him a coach’s dream. As well as that, he is an efficient blocker, and can catch in traffic too. There’s no specific area he excels in unbelievably, but he is solid in every role the tight end executes.
Another aspect of Jesse that I respect is his honesty. In regard to the current affairs regarding the Steelers, particularly the cases of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, James insinuated his sickness over the drama within the organisation, referring to the team as “Kardashians, and honestly, he’s not far off either.
What The Deal Should Look Like
That said, I, for one, certainly hope this saga comes to an end, and quick. If not we could lose one of the few players who value the game more than they do the prescedence of being a star. For me, it’s absolutely vital that the Steeler’s re-sign James to a three-year deal. I would estimate the figure he’d receive after completion of said contract would be around the 5 million dollar mark. He’s a solid talent in a position within which we are lacking, especially if an injury were to occur. Moreover, having not missed many games, he’s one of the most reliable players in recent memory. Thus, I feel he is deserving of such a large contract. Ultimately, it’d be a remarkable failure to let a talent the caliber of Jesse James go, and for the team who’d pick him up, a candidate for steal of the season.
Image Credits – Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports