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: Landry Jones
Experience: 2 Years
Landry Jones is certainly well within the running for the most unpopular man in Pittsburgh, not just the most unpopular player on the Steelers. There is no shortage of people who believe he should not have been on the 53-man roster. Many, no doubt, don’t believe he even merited a place on the practice squad a year ago.
Much of that, of course, goes back to value, as the Steelers used a fourth-round draft pick on him in the same round in which they traded away a future third-round pick to select Shamarko Thomas. That will always be part of his legacy, even if he does ever go on to do something.
But he really hasn’t offered us any signs of being able to become more than he already has been, which is really not much at all. We as fans, of course, only get to see him in the preseason, but he did not show any significant improvement from year one to year two, and certainly never came close to pushing for the backup quarterback position.
The Steelers could have chosen to try to sneak him onto the practice squad in 2014—it didn’t seem as though anybody would be coming around knocking, given how he performed—but he has been on the 53-man roster for all 33 of the Steelers’ games.
He’s never been dressed for one, of course. With Ben Roethlisberger actually staying healthy since Jones was drafted, the latter has never come close to getting on the field in even an emergency type of situation. Even Bruce Gradkowski has logged about 10 snaps in two years, most of which came in mop up duty of a blowout victory.
Obviously, Jones is going to get his chance to compete again in 2015, but one has to imagine that he could be very much drawing near the cutting point if he continues to underperform; beat writers have jested that his interceptions in practice late in the season boosted the confidence of the Steelers’ no-name cornerback group.
One can’t help but wonder, adding in the fact that Gradkowski is in the last year of his contract, if the Steelers will be looking to bring in more significant competition at quarterback, either with a veteran free agent, or perhaps another draft pick. Or perhaps they may just opt to go with two quarterbacks in the future.