Zach Banner last played in the NFL in 2021, but the former Steelers offensive tackle is hoping that the door is not shut on an NFL return. He suffered a torn ACL during the Week 1 game in the 2020 season against the New York Giants, and never felt quite right since then.
Even after returning to the field in 2021, he was in and out of the lineup during training camp before the knee swelled up again, causing him to be placed on injured reserve before the season began. While he did return, Banner never got his starting right tackle role back, and Pittsburgh released him after the 2021 season.
Since then, Banner has yet to catch on anywhere else. But joining The Sick Podcast with Yinzer Crazy, Banner discussed his rehab process and his will to come back. Banner, 29, is not retired, and despite missing the Steelers and Pittsburgh, is looking for an opportunity in the league.
“I’m definitely at the later stages of my rehab, recovery, and comeback,” Banner said. “In 2023, I think it’s my year. I’m ready to get signed and go work out somewhere. I want to play somewhere. You know, I’m excited man. It’s been a long journey to spend those 4 to 5 years in Pittsburgh, living there, and making it a home, there was grieving process that I had to go through last year. That’s why I didn’t play last season for anybody.”
Banner still has love for Pittsburgh. He played with the Steelers from 2018 to 2021. The knee injury set him back in his first start with the team after being the team’s jumbo tight end the previous few seasons. It happened near the end of the game after Banner had won the job over now starter Chuks Okorafor.
“I still have tons of love for Pittsburgh,” Banner said. “It means so much to me on and off the field. No matter what people think about me there and how they think about me, I love the city. I felt the love back.”
Now, in 2023, Banner hopes he can catch on somewhere in the NFL. He was drafted out USC in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. Banner then bounced around a few places before landing in Pittsburgh in 2018. His knee is the biggest obstacle, but if he can find a team willing to give him a shot, there’s no telling what Banner could do.