Heath Miller Retires: Latest Comments and Reaction

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2016

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller warms up before an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

After 11 productive NFL seasons, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller retired Friday.  

The team announced the 33-year-old's decision on its official website. He will walk away from the game as a two-time Super Bowl champion and a two-time Pro Bowl selection.

Miller released a statement on his decision, per the team's website:

Today, I informed the Steelers of my plans to retire. I realize how extremely fortunate and grateful I am to have spent my entire career as a Pittsburgh Steeler. I would like to thank the Rooney Family, Kevin Colbert, Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin, James Daniel and the rest of the Steelers organization for giving me the opportunity to live out my childhood dream. I will always cherish and value the special bonds that I formed with my teammates. It was truly an honor for me to take the field with them. I am also appreciative of my entire family and all of the coaches who helped me along the way. Additionally, I want to thank Steelers Nation, the best fans in the NFL!

Lastly, I owe the biggest thank you to my wife, Katie, and our four children for their unwavering support.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin released a statement, per Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Chris Adamski @C_AdamskiTrib

Mike Tomlin on Heath Miller retirement https://t.co/eINb8XixB8

The 2005 first-round pick out of Virginia also retires as the Steelers' all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns among tight ends, according to NFL Network's James Palmer:

James Palmer @JamesPalmerTV

In Steelers history, Heath Miller is the all-time leader in receptions (592), rec yards (6,569) & receiving touchdowns (45) by a tight end.

He is also among the all-time leaders in receptions among all tight ends in NFL history, per Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders:

Scott Kacsmar @FO_ScottKacsmar

Most receptions by TE in NFL history 1. Gonzalez 1325 2. Witten 1020 3. Gates 844 4. Sharpe 815 5. Newsome 662 6. HEATH MILLER 592

Miller missed just eight games over the course of his career, appearing in 168 regular-season contests and 15 postseason matchups.

While his production was down a bit in 2015, in comparison to a 2014 season that saw him make 66 catches for 761 yards and three scores, he still ended the campaign with 60 grabs for 535 yards and two touchdowns.

Miller had one season remaining on his contract at a cap hit of just over $7 million, according to Spotrac, but he decided to pass up the $4 million in base salary he would have earned.

Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, that creates a win-lose situation for the Steelers:

Miller's retirement leaves Pittsburgh without a suitable replacement since the likes of Matt Spaeth and Jesse James aren't starting material.

That could compel Pittsburgh to pursue a tight end such as Vernon Davis, Ben Watson, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener or Ladarius Green in free agency. They may also considering selecting tight end Hunter Henry out of Arkansas in the first round of the draft.

Regardless of how the Steelers decide to address the situation, Miller will be extremely difficult to replace, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be without his top safety valve in 2016.

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