End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: Heath Miller
Position: Tight End
Experience: 10 Years
At 32-years old, tight end Heath Miller is still, if nothing else, a complete workhorse at tight end, and certainly a source of comfort for his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. In his 10th season, finally more than a year removed from a significant knee injury, he showed that he could still produce on the offensive side of the ball.
As a matter of fact, his 66 receptions and 761 receiving yards were both the third-best marks of his career, and he maintained a yards per catch average of 11.5 yards, which was slightly higher than his career average.
Though he only caught three touchdowns this season, it is worth keeping in perspective that he has only caught more than three touchdowns in a season twice since 2008. Of course, Roethlisberger also threw 21 touchdowns to a pair of receivers as well last season, with the introduction of a tall target perhaps taking away some of Miller’s red zone targets.
Miller was also productive as a receiver in the Steelers’ playoff loss, catching six passes for 76 yards, but he also lost a fumble at the end of the game. It was his second lost fumble of the season, and the game also included his seventh dropped pass of the season.
The veteran tight end also seemed to go through periods of success and failure as a blocker. He struggled in that department early in the year, but seemed to be coming along by midseason, and helped strengthen the running game, particularly as the Steelers used two and three tight end sets. Of course, he also found success in the screen game as a blocker, as in the season finale against the Bengals.
It is clear, however, that Miller doesn’t have many years left in his career. He will turn 33 next season in what may well be his last season, even though he still has two years left on his contract thanks to a two-year extension last offseason designed to create salary cap space.
Certainly, the Steelers can get some good production out of Miller in 2015, but it’s about time for them to start looking toward the future. Aside from Roethlisberger, Miller is the only key part of the offense over 30, after all.