Ex-Steelers Lineman Eyes NFL Return

Former Steeler sets sights on challenging NFL return journey.

by Nouman Rasool
Ex-Steelers Lineman Eyes NFL Return
© ustin Casterline/Getty Images

Zach Banner, once designated as the starting right tackle by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020, finds himself on the cusp of a remarkable NFL comeback. Banner's journey from a promising start, derailed by injury, to his current quest for redemption, encapsulates the resilience and determination characteristic of professional athletes at their peak.

Originally drafted in the fourth round by the Indianapolis Colts in 2017, Banner quickly showcased his potential, outperforming Chukwuma Okorafor during the Steelers' training camp to clinch the coveted starting position.

However, fate had a different plan, as Banner's ascension was abruptly halted after just 59 offensive snaps in the season opener against the New York Giants due to a devastating knee injury. Despite this setback, the Steelers retained Banner for the 2021 season, though rehabilitation constraints sidelined him from participating in training camp, leading to his eventual release in March 2022 after minimal on-field action.

Now, after a two-year hiatus, Banner is poised for a comeback, armed with unwavering determination and the support of fans. His recent interaction on X, where he assured a supportive fan of his return to the gridiron in 2024, highlights his commitment to reviving his career.

Banner's response not only reaffirmed his resolve but also showcased his gratitude towards the fans, as he offered a signed jersey to the fan who wished him well.

Banner's Daunting Comeback

Banner's journey has been anything but easy.

Reflecting on the challenges since his injury in September 2020, he remains optimistic about his prospects, despite the inherent challenges of returning to the NFL after a significant hiatus. At 30, and with a relatively modest NFL resume, Banner acknowledges the uphill battle he faces, particularly when competing against younger, potentially more appealing prospects to teams.

The question looms large: Could the Steelers consider Banner for a role, particularly when examining their current lineup? With Broderick Jones showing promise and a potential shift in position alignments within the team, Pittsburgh may explore options to bolster their tackle positions.

While Banner might not be the primary choice, his familiarity with the team and his experience, albeit limited, present a case for his consideration as a depth player. As the 2024 NFL Draft approaches, Banner's fate hangs in the balance.

The possibility of a team needing to fill a gap due to injury or other unforeseen circumstances could open the door for Banner's return. His story is a testament to the spirit of perseverance, echoing the dreams and challenges faced by many in the relentless pursuit of their professional aspirations.