Trai Essex joined the Steelers as a third round pick out of Flrodia State in 2005 and got the privilege to start his first two games at left tackle against the Baltimore Raven’s defense, and come into the game against Dwight Freeley of the Indy Colts. He started a few other games in place of Marvel Smith during the Steelers run the Super Bowl in 2005.
Assessment of Trai Essex
Trai Essex has been somewhat of an enigma during his four years in Pittsburgh. He got a lot of starting action as a rookie, and played in goal line situations in 2006. But he did not seriously challenge for a starting role in 2007 and was all but written off as a bust until both Marvel Smith and Max Starks got injured late in the year. While Essex was no world-beater, but he did acquit himself well. He improved his value to the team in 2008 by playing both guard and tackle during training camp, and was the first man in when Marvel Smith got hurt against Jacksonville… only to see two Jaguar defenders blow past him as they made a bee line for Ben.
What the Steelers Should Do with Trai Essex
As a third round pick, Essex must be labeled as somewhat of a disappointment. Nonetheless, versatility in an offensive lineman is nothing to discard. Essex is never going to be a solid starter, but he is a serviceable back up. If the Steelers can sign him to a contract that reflects that, they should. If not, let him become a free agent with the possibility of bringing him back.
What Will Likely Happen
One way or anther, Trai Essex isn’t going to get a lot of money thrown at him. He would be wise to accept any offer the Steelers tender, as no NFL team is going to give him a starting contract. To some degree or another, what happens with Marvel Smith, Chris Kemoeatu, and Max Starks will probably have a large bearing on the Steelers intentions to Essex.
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