By Jordan Dajani
(CBS SPORTS) – Tight end Nick Vannett is more than happy to put the 2019 season behind him. After beginning the year with the Seattle Seahawks, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers and then hit free agency around his 27th birthday. In late March, Vannett agreed to terms with the Denver Broncos on a two-year deal.
Vannett is looking for stability with his new team. While there are plenty of other talented tight ends on the Broncos’ roster, he believes he can tutor the young players, serve as a receiving option for developing quarterback Drew Lock and pave lanes for the dynamic duo of Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay.
Known more for his prowess as a blocker, Vannett helped former Buckeye and current Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott rush for 3,699 yards and 41 touchdowns during their final two seasons together in Columbus. In 2018, Vannett’s blocking helped Seahawks running back Chris Carson rush for 1,151 yards, as Seattle boasted the league’s top-ranked rushing attack that season after being 23rd the previous season.
Vannett’s exit from the Seahawks was not a pleasant one, however. Despite being a third-round draft pick back in 2016, Vannett felt like the Seahawks were very much ready to move on from him.
“I always felt like toward the end of my tenure with the Seahawks, I felt like I was slowly getting kicked to the curb a little bit,” Vannett said, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic. “They had another guy, a young guy, they brought in, (Will) Dissly, they were pretty high on and they kind of saw him to be my successor. I don’t know, like slowly I feel like they kind of minimized my role, they weren’t getting me involved as much. From what I heard, the Steelers were looking for a tight end and they had been trying to make an offer for quite some time, and I think they finally made an offer that the Seahawks couldn’t refuse.”
In 13 games with the Steelers in 2019, Vannett recorded just 13 receptions for 128 yards. While he admitted it took some time to get adjusted to his new NFL home, Vannett also said that problems within the organization hurt his experience in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger was out for the season due to injury, the Steelers kept switching quarterbacks and then of course there was the infamous Myles Garrett brawl that resulted in numerous suspensions.
“When I got to the Steelers, talk about a crazy three months there,” said Vannett. “It seemed like I came into an organization where the wheels were starting to fall off a bit. Guys were getting hurt, Ben was down. So I feel like I never really got to experience the true benefits, the true atmosphere that the Steelers normally would have because I came in on a crazy situation.
“I don’t know. I can’t say I have too many great things to say about that organization just from my time being there because it wasn’t the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had. So I can’t really speak too much on them to be honest.”
Vannett didn’t catch a touchdown in 2019 for the first time since his rookie season. In 55 career games, he has caught 61 passes for 591 yards and four touchdowns. After what was a tumultuous season personally for Vannett, he now finds himself with an organization seemingly on the rise with plenty of talent on both sides of the ball.