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Pat Freiermuth Set for New Expansive Role in Arthur Smith Offense

The Pittsburgh Steelers expect tight end Pat Freiermuth to have a big year in Arthur Smith’s offense this season.



Pittsburgh Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth at OTAs on May 21, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Arthur Smith’s vision for the Pittsburgh Steelers offense will likely differ from his previous stops because Pittsburgh’s personnel is different. But one commonality? It will likely feature Pat Freiermuth, the Steelers tight end, heavily. Smith has featured Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, and Delanie Walker in his previous stops, leading all three to solid seasons.

Freiermuth expects little to change with the tight end’s usage from previous Smith offenses. He watched a ton of Pitts tape in preparing for his new role. Freiermuth believes that the Steelers will work him all around the formation, from out wide to in the slot to in-line, and it should accentuate his skills.

“See, when Jonnu was in Tennessee, even last year, really, Kyle, all the times that he’s had even Delanie Walker, he started using cool stuff,” Freiermuth said of Smith.” And he’s had a lot of great tight ends. And early on. It’s been two days, and early on, just seeing the flexibility where I can line up. It’s been awesome.”

Freiermuth will be more useful in spots where he is more inexperienced, but his upside as a receiver might usurp that. Injuries held him back in 2023, and he is now expanding his route tree in his fourth season with the team. Freiermuth declared that he is running more in breaking stuff like digs and slants, and on top of that, his deep route tree is far more expansive. The Matt Canada offense sometimes boxed Freiermuth in, but Smith should use him to his full capabilities as a receiver.

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth at the team’s OTAs, May 22, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

“Slants, digs, and all that, I’m running it,” Freiermuth said. “Yeah. Yeah. It’s been awesome to add that, that full route tree to my repertoire. And you know, it’s been great. It’s been fun. Everything’s been great.”

Pat Freiermuth has skills that the Steelers can embrace under Smith. With multiple tight ends, Freiermuth still expects to be a significant piece in teh run game. But his downfield game is where he hopes to leap. In years past, the Steelers would run Freiermuth down the seam as a vertical choice, but teams would take away his choice routes with little downfield offering.

But with more diverse route trees all around the offense, Freiermuth hopes that the speed on the outside at wide receiver and his new, versatile usage can reveal some hidden part of his game.

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth against the Baltimore Ravens, Jan. 6, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

“I’m just reading how the safeties and corners are playing obviouslyyou know, as a tight end, you know, the corners and safeties aren’t really trying to you got to threaten them just because, you know. Usually, we don’t run those deeper routes, but it’s about me adding that into that game,” Freiermuth said. ” You know, making my game deeper. Also, there’s stuff I’m not going to be able to threaten, and in show DBs and stuff that I can get downfield, but then when I’m not getting off it, I can showcase that and then work off that. In years past, I wasn’t doing much downfield except there was a seam, so then people would be able to squat on my breakers, choice routes, and stuff, so it made it harder. But I think you know, me having the download can open up so much.”

The way Freiermuth profiles this season is very similar to how Penn State used himFreiermuth has lined up wide but with little purpose. Now, he can go up against mismatches and spread defenses out. That changes the dynamics for Freiermuth, who is entering a contract season on top of the massive changes in the offense.

“I think years in the past, I was when I would split out wide and stuff,” Freiermuth said. “It was either for a decoy, or it was I didn’t really feel comfortable on the rocks out there. But now that I know that I’m gonna be out there and work on that, and we’re going to every day and knowing that stuff. It’s bringing me back to how I was using college and stuff.”

If the Steelers offense is going to have a successful passing offense, Pat Freiermuth looks like the team’s WR2. Roman Wilson will come along, but Freiermuth has prepared by watching Pitts and even Drake London tape for his role. Some of adapting to the role will be sharpening up the ends of his game, but Pittsburgh hopes to see Freiermuth take off into the next echelon of tight ends under Smith.