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: Darrius Heyward-Bey
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 6 Years
The Steelers signed Darrius Heyward-Bey as a bit of an afterthought, but, despite his largely minimal role, I suspect that the team is very interested in retaining him at or near the same deal that he had in 2014.
He contributed little on offense—three receptions, one of which he fumbled, plus a long pass interference penalty drawn—but he did get some snaps, and was able to use his deep speed to open the middle of the field.
As the season progressed and Martavis Bryant was increasingly incorporated into the offense, there were times that Todd Haley used the speed of both outside receivers to tear up the field, allowing players such as Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, and Le’Veon Bell to have more space to work with underneath.
His primary responsibilities during the year were on special teams. While he had a couple of early penalties, he showed himself to be a positive contributor in this area, using his speed to get down the field and make tackles easier for his teammates. He had five tackles himself and also forced a fumble.
Heyward-Bey has the potential to be a bigger contributor to the offense, and he may get that chance if the Steelers elect t- re-sign him without adding any other substantial pieces, which should make him the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart.
His speed, blocking ability, and versatility to play multiple positions makes him valuable as a reserve piece in the offense, who can supplement where needed in a variety of different capacities.
It’s also worth noting that he didn’t seem to carry over the trait that has perhaps most haunted him in his area, which had been his propensity to drop balls. While he had limited work during the regular season, he did catch nine of the 12 passes aimed his way in the preseason without dropping any, though that is admittedly still a small sample size.
With Brown on the roster, the Steelers don’t really need a ‘veteran’ presence in the wide receiver room, but Heyward-Bey has shown himself to be an excellent locker room guy who is free of ego. If he can be retained on similar terms to that which brought him here, then I think it makes a lot of sense to do so.