Steelers bring in tight end Green

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Ladarius Green saw the yellow sea of Terrible Towels waving last fall when the Pittsburgh Steelers visited San Diego and the Chargers tight end couldn’t help but be a little envious.

“It was pretty bad for us because we had to go on a silent count,” Green said. “You want to be around that kind of stuff.”

Consider that problem solved.

Green signed a four-year deal with the Steelers on Thursday, who tasked the talented and still young tight end with replacing Heath Miller, who retired quietly last month.

The 25-year-old Green is coming off a career year with the Chargers in 2015 in which he set personal bests in receptions (37), yards receiving (429) and touchdown receptions (4) while playing splitting time with Antonio Gates. The deal is worth a $20 million and is the rare free agency splurge for Pittsburgh, which typically avoids delving into the open market for high-priced prospects.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin flew to Pensacola, Florida on Wednesday to meet with Green and even called up quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a brief introduction.

“I was pretty pumped up,” Green said. “One guy you always want to meet in life, Big Ben, want to talk to him and learn from him as well.”

The two will have plenty of time to get comfortable after the Steelers made a sizable investment in the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Green, who should provide the Steelers a big red zone target to complement an offense that already includes Roethlisberger, All Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, rising star Martavis Bryant and running back Le’Veon Bell.

“Just any role they try to put me in, I’m going to try and do that to the best of my ability and be whoever they need me to be,” Green said.

It would be nice if Green could prove as reliable as Miller, a two-time Pro Bowler who holds just about every major team receiving record by a tight end. Green downplayed any comparisons, but he immediately vaults to the top of the depth chart ahead of veteran Matt Spaeth and prospect Jesse James.