After playing 11 NFL seasons and winning two Super Bowl championships, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller is hanging up the cleats, the team announced on Friday.
The 33-year-old Miller leaves football as one of the game’s best all-around tight ends as his run blocking was just as much a key attribute to his game as his pass catching. The former No. 30 overall pick out of Virginia in 2005 ends his career with a total of 592 receptions, 6,569 receiving yards, and 45 touchdowns, all franchise records at the tight end position. Along with those records, Miller also leaves Pittsburgh as one of only four players in Steelers history to catch at least 500 passes (Hines Ward, John Stallworth, Antonio Brown).
A fan favorite in Pittsburgh, Miller was constantly followed by chants of “Heeeath” whenever making a reception or key play for the Steelers. In 2015, Miller recorded 60 catches for 535 yards and two touchdowns. His most productive season as a Steeler, however, came in 2012 when he recorded 71 receptions with a career-high 816 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
Steelers President Art Rooney II released this statement regarding the news on Friday:
“On behalf of the entire Steelers organization and Steelers Nation around the world, I would like to congratulate and thank Heath of his many contributions to the Steelers. The chants of ‘HEEATH’ will be missed at Heinz Field and around the entire NFL. Heath is the most accomplished tight end in team history and his efforts will not soon be forgotten.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers saved roughly $4.4 million in cap space by Miller retiring, as he still had one year remaining on his contract. Now, the question for the Steelers becomes what will they do next with ‘Ole Reliable’ now gone? Pittsburgh has already drafted a possible replacement for Miller in TE Jesse James (2015 fifth rounder, Penn State) but they could also try to land somebody on the free agent market with the money they saved with Miller retiring such as a Vernon Davis (UFA), Mercedes Lewis (UFA), or LaDarius Green (UFA). No matter who becomes the next No. 1 tight end in Pittsburgh, it is highly unlikely that Ben Roethlisberger’s new target is able to put up the numbers and display the consistency shown by Heath Miller.
Miller’s current/former teammates took to Twitter on Friday to congratulate him on his career and say their goodbyes shortly after the news broke:
— Antonio Brown (@AntonioBrown84) February 19, 2016
— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) February 19, 2016
Im going to miss Earl “heaaaaaath” Miller…love you and thanks for all the memories…#classicsteelerTE…2timer…
— Ike Taylor (@Ike_SwagginU) February 19, 2016
Information from Pro-Football-Reference was used in this report.