Former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Zach Banner has not been back in the NFL since he was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the spring of 2022.
But Banner announced on Thursday that he is not ready to hang up his cleats just yet and that he is still attempting to recover from the “devastating” knee injury that derailed his career in 2020.
“I also have been missing for a while, and I want everyone to know I’ve just been working out and training my knee,” Banner wrote on Twitter. “I have not retired… Im simply just a bigger man who has needed more time to get past a devastating injury.”
I also have been missing for a while, and I want everyone to know I’ve just been working out and training my knee.
I have not retired… Im simply just a bigger man who has needed more time to get past a devastating injury…
That is all, carry on…
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) May 4, 2023
Banner was a cult hero in his short time as a regular with the Steelers. A fourth round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2017, Banner struggled with his weight and conditioning and was released by the Colts. He bounced from Indianapolis to the Cleveland Browns to the Carolina Panthers before landing in Pittsburgh in August of 2018, well after training camp had already began.
He caught up quickly, though, and after a “redshirt” year in 2018, he carved out a role for himself as the team’s top swing tackle in 2019. That came with work as a jumbo tight end occasionally, and Banner drew cheers at Heinz Field when his No. 72 was declared eligible by the referee.
The Steelers re-signed Banner and he entered 2020 as the team’s starting right tackle, replacing Matt Feiler, who was shifted to left guard to fill in for the retiring Ramon Foster.
That stretch as starting tackle lasted just one game, as Banner suffered an ACL tear in the 2020 season opener against the New York Giants at Met Life Stadium.
That playing surface, which sees double duty between the Giants and New York Jets, has been roundly criticized by NFL players. The stadium replaced that surface, which was brand new at the time of Banner’s injury, with a more modern surface this offseason.
Banner missed the rest of the 2020 season and attempted a return in 2021, but suffered a setback and was unable to continue his rehab at that point. Banner lost his starting job to Chukwuma Okorafor, who he had beaten out for the swing tackle job in 2019 and the starting right tackle spot in 2020.
Banner spent another year on the injured reserve list before the team released him in March 2022. Now 29, Banner is certainly still young enough to make a return, if he can get his knee healthy enough to play once again.