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Steelers ‘Offense Falls On’ Pat Freiermuth, Tight End Room

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Pittsburgh Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth

Pat Freiermuth is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is likely to get a huge pay raise next offseason. While he still has to perform at a high level this season for the Steelers, the fourth-year tight end is aiming for something far greater than his future cash. Freiermuth wants to break the team’s playoff skid and win a playoff game as a member of the Steelers.

“We as players know that we have to win playoff games,” Freiermuth told reporters at the team’s minicamp in June. “That is what we are paid to do and that is what we want to do in Pittsburgh… I am 0-2 in the playoffs and other guys have certain records and stuff so obviously we all want to get a win under our belt in the playoffs.”

The Steelers snuck into the playoffs last season behind the magical three-week run by Mason Rudolph just to lose by two touchdowns to the Bills in the AFC Wild Card matchup. They knew they needed to make a change in the offense and hired Arthur Smith as the new offensive coordinator.

This move excited many of the team’s offensive player but it excited one position group the most, the tight ends. Smith loves his tight ends so much that he asks them to be the leaders of his offense and Freiermuth is excited about that challenge.

“We are in charge of a lot,” Freiermuth said. “A lot of the offense falls on us. Just formations calls, plays, assignments, all that kind of stuff so we are excited for that.”

The Steelers offensive game plans under Matt Canada’s leadership were lackluster, at best, but with Smith now in charge, Freiermuth is already seeing a huge difference in the playbook and how it is ran.

“There is a lot of shifts, variations and motions,” Freiermuth said. “A lot to be asked from by not only myself but the whole tight end room so it’s been great.”

While Freiermuth is in line for an extension, his head coach, Mike Tomlin, already received his from the team. Freiermuth went onto talk about how happy he was for Tomlin.

“I am very happy for him,” Freiermuth said. “He his the best coach that I have ever played for and I think a lot of the guys in the locker room will say the same thing. We wouldn’t be able to win the games that we’ve won without him. He is a great leader of men and I can’t say enough good things about him.”

With a new offensive coordinator and quarterback in town, Freiermuth could be in-line for a huge season. If he can execute his goal of at least one playoff win this season and play at a high level while doing it, the Steelers may be backing up the Brinks trucks for the fan favorite tight end next offseason.

88 • Pat Freiermuth, Tight End, Penn State
6-foot-5, 258 pounds, 25 years old, 4th Season

Acquired: The Steelers drafted Pat Freiermuth with the 55th overall pick in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Last SeasonYear three of Pat Freiermuth’s career did not go how he planned. He missed five games due to an injury and his production dipped.

In his 12 appearances, Freiermuth caught 32 of his 44 targets for 308 yards and two touchdowns. His best game of the season came in Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals which also happened to be the team’s first game after firing Matt Canada. In the game, Freiermuth hauled in a game-high nine passes for 120 yards.

His next best game came in the Wild Card loss to the Buffalo Bills when he led the team in receiving with 76 yards on five receptions.

Steelers Pat Freiermuth

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 26, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

CareerIn 2021, Freiermuth assumed the starting tight end position following the retirement of Vance McDonald. In Week 1, he started his first game against the Buffalo Bills and recorded his first professional reception for 24 yards on his only target of the game. In Week 3, Freiermuth caught his first NFL touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals and then recorded his first multi-touchdown game in Week 9 against the Chicago Bears.

Later in his rookie season, Freiermuth suffered two concussions, one in Week 12 and the other in Week 15. Freiermuth finished his lone season with Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback with 60 receptions on 77 targets for 497 yards and seven touchdowns.

He followed up his impressive rookie season with a healthier and equally as productive second year. Freiermuth was the second most targeted player on the offense with 96 targets, only behind Diontae Johnson’s 141 targets.

In Week 1, Freiermuth was targeted nine times as he hauled in five catches for 75 yards. This was one of four games that Freiermuth went over the 70-yard mark in 2022. His season-high for receiving yards came in Week 4 against the New York Jets as he finished with seven catches and 85 yards.

A year after hauling in seven scores, Freiermuth caught only two touchdowns in 16 appearances in 2022. The reason for the dip in touchdown production is that the Steelers quarterbacks only threw 12 passing touchdowns all season.

In total, Freiermuth has played in 44 career games with 26 starts. Over his first three seasons, he has racked up 155 catches for 1,537 yards and 11 touchdowns. Additionally, Freiermuth became the 10th tight end in NFL history to reach 100 career receptions in 25 games or less.

Year GP Targets Receptions Yards AVG TDs PFF Rating
2021 16 77 60 497 8.3 7 72.3
2022 16 96 63 732 11.6 2 75.5
2023 12 44 32 308 9.6 2 65.3

College: After an illustrious high school career at the Brooks School, Freiermuth committed to play football at Penn State. As a true freshman in 2018, Freiermuth played in 13 games and started nine of them. He hauled in 26 receptions for 368 yards and eight touchdowns. His eight touchdowns were the most by a Penn State freshman since 2005. After the season, earned an honorable mention All-Big Ten from the coaches.

Freiermuth started all 13 games and was named as a team captain for the Nittany Lions in 2019. He finished his sophomore season with 43 catches for 507 yards and seven touchdowns. His 43 receptions and 507 yards ranked second on the team. He was named to the All-Big Ten second team by the coaches and media.

After just four games as a junior, Freiermuth’s season came to an end due to an injury. Despite his injury, he finished first among all Big Ten tight ends with 310 receiving yards. In his four starts, Freiermuth hauled in 23 receptions and one touchdown. After the season, Freiermuth was named the Kwalick-Clark Big Ten Tight End of the Year.

In his Penn State career, Freiermuth appeared in 30 games while making 26 starts and set the school’s record for touchdown receptions by a tight end with 16.

Year GP Receptions Yards AVG TDs
2018 12 26 368 14.2 8
2019 13 43 507 11.8 7
2020 4 23 310 13.5 1

Salary cap and future: Pat Freiermuth is entering the last year of his four-year rookie contract with the Steelers. In 2024, Freiermuth will cost $1.92 million against the team’s cap space. The Steelers owe him a base salary of $1.48 million and a roster bonus of $436,033. Freiermuth will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2024 season.

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