Steelers release Matt Spaeth after failed physical

Matt Spaeth's long run with the Pittsburgh Steelers is over.

The team announced Thursday that Spaeth has been released with the designation of failed physical.

"Matt never fully recovered from knee surgery that occurred this past offseason, and he will not be ready to return to football activities at this time," general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement released by the team. "Matt played an integral role in our Super Bowl XLIII Championship run, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Drafted in the third round out of Minnesota in 2007, the noted blocking specialist has accrued 420 yards and 10 touchdowns on 55 receptions across nine seasons with the Steelers and Chicago Bears.

Between the release of Spaeth and the offseason retirement of Heath Miller, Pittsburgh is undergoing a changing of the guard at tight end.

Former San Diego Chargers speedster Ladarius Green was signed to add a more dynamic dimension to the aerial attack. Jesse James, selected in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, is expected to take over Spaeth's role as an inline blocker and red-zone specialist.

At the Scouting Combine in February, Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim offered penetrating insight into the state of the position in today's NFL.

"You don't talk about tight ends (anymore). You're looking at either a Y or an F, and that's the way we talk about them," Keim explained. "You're either an inline guy who usually lacks the skill set to be a pass catcher. It's a tough overachiever that's physical at the point of attack. And then you have the guy who can flex and is essentially a big wide receiver. So the guy who can do it all generally doesn't exist anymore."

As Steelers fans know, Miller was one of the few exceptions to Keim's rule of thumb. He and Spaeth functioned as the Batman and Robin of the position for nearly a full decade in Pittsburgh.

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