These two moves kind of go together, even though they are a year apart.
In 2003, the Steelers signed tight end Jay Reimersma for three years and $4 million dollars. Most of us at the time thought we had a pretty good tight end and weren't sure they should spend money at that position.
The problem was that they wanted to throw to the tight end. Bruener had good hands, but wasn't a very good route runner and he didn't have the speed to stretch the field. He was, however, a powerful blocker and an important cog in the run game.
But the Steelers were transitioning into a pass-heavy offense and wanted weapons. So they started Reimersma and barely played Bruener, even starting Jerame Tuman in his place and relegating Bruener to the bench full-time. The result was a 6-10 record and a Bill Cowher-era worst 31st ranked rushing attack.
The Steelers let Bruener go in free agency, deciding to stick with the younger and better receiving tight ends.
An injury-riddled Reimersma retired after 2004 and caught just 17 passes during his two seasons, earning about three million for them.
The Texans took Bruener for near the veteran minimum, and he played four full seasons there, starting two of them.
Two years later the Steelers drafted a godsend in Heath Miller who did both jobs well. Still Bruener could have been a cheap quality back up for a couple of more years.