A week after not making the Steelers' initial 53-man roster, Zach Gentry has found a new home inside the AFC North division. The former Pittsburgh tight end is signing with the Bengals and will be on the team's practice squad, according to NFL Media.
A 2019 fifth-round pick out of Michigan, Gentry was a surprise cut when the Steelers released their initial 53-man roster for the 2023 season. But Gentry was ultimately deemed expendable with Pat Freiermuth, Connor Heyward and rookie Darnell Washington ahead of him on the depth chart. The Steelers then elected to sign Rodney Williams to their practice squad instead of Gentry.
After not catching a pass during his first two seasons, Gentry caught a combined 38 of 48 targets over the past two seasons. His 32-yard catch and run against the Bengals last season set up a touchdown in Pittsburgh's overtime win in Week 1.
Gentry was more known for his work as a blocker, which is one of the reasons why he remained on Pittsburgh's roster the previous four years.
This is some really poor run defense and pursuit angles from the Bengals.— Derrick (@Steelers_DB) November 21, 2022
But I do want to shoutout Zach Gentry for sealing and sustaining the edge. Ive been hard on the TEs in run blocking and this was a big part in busting an explosive run. pic.twitter.com/hQjJkIQtVI
Gentry is going from a team with a surplus of talent at tight end to a team that needs some reinforcements at that position. For a second straight year, the Bengals opted to sign a free agent instead of re-signing their starting tight end. This past offseason, they let Hayden Hurst go in free agency while signing Irv Smith Jr., a former first-round pick who struggled to stay on the field during his last two seasons in Minnesota.
Behind Smith on the Bengals' depth chart is Drew Sample, who like Gentry is more known for his blocking than receiving. Mitchell Wilcox, the third tight end on the Bengals' depth chart, caught 20 passes during his first two NFL regular seasons.
If he is able to get on the 53-man roster, Gentry will get a chance to face his former team twice next season. The Bengals host Pittsburgh on Nov. 26 and will travel to Pittsburgh on Dec. 23. The two teams split their season series a year ago after Cincinnati swept Pittsburgh in 2021 en route to winning the AFC.