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: Ike Taylor
Experience: 12 Years
If this is to be the final season in the NFL for Ike Taylor, then it certainly didn’t end the way he would have hoped it would, either personally or professionally. While the Steelers finished the regular season strong, winning the division and getting back to the playoffs, they were one and done, with the defense giving up 30 points in a game for which he was a healthy scratch.
Taylor, of course, entered the season as a starting cornerback, a reality made possible only by his agreeing to a dramatic reduction in salary. He remained in that capacity for about two and a half games before a friendly fire arm injury knocked out most of the rest of his season.
During that early playing period, he did have one strong sequence near the goal line against the Ravens in the second game in which he successfully defended two passes in the end zone. Outside of that, however, Taylor certainly looked well past his prime, and his return from injury did not inspire confidence of any type of second wind.
Taylor only played in two more games for the rest of the year, returning about 10 weeks later only to be abused in consecutive weeks by the Saints and the Bengals, giving up over 100 yards in each game, and three combined touchdowns. He also suffered further injuries that wiped out the remainder of his regular season.
The chances at this point are very slim that Taylor factors at all in the Steelers’ future plans for their defense on the field. Even if he is willing to play for a veteran-minimum salary in a reserve role, it doesn’t seem likely that they would be interested in that arrangement.
Perhaps a mid-season injury replacement signing akin to the return of James Harrison in 2014 could be a possibility, but it would most certainly be a last resort, assuming no other team gives Taylor an opportunity at some point during this offseason.
He may never be converted to a safety to extend his playing career, but perhaps one day he can scout safeties and cornerbacks for the Steelers as part of their scout team, which is an ambition that Taylor has alluded to in the past. He would have more to offer the team in that role now than playing the position.