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: Justin Brown
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 2 Years
Justin Brown was not the first wide receiver bearing that surname that the Steelers had drafted in the sixth round in recent memory. Of course, his career trajectory has gone nothing like that of the other player alluded to, All-Pro Antonio Brown.
Physically, Justin has a few inches and pounds on Antonio, but that is just about the only advantage held by the third-year player, who is no longer with the organization after being released from the 53-man roster late during the regular season.
Brown was a teammate of the Steelers’ fourth-round draft pick of 2013, quarterback Landry Jones, and the two showed a bit of a rapport early in the preseason. It seemed easy initially to project that Brown would make the roster, but as the preseason progressed, it was clear that Derek Moye outperformed him.
Brown marinated for a year on the practice squad and evidently developed, working with Ben Roethlisberger during the offseason. He worked as the third receiver with the first-team offense throughout much of the offseason process in 2014, and fulfilled that role for most of the first six games of the year, as well, after making the roster over Moye as the sixth receiver.
Even though he did nothing spectacular, it did seem as though Brown might be able to carve out a niche for himself. In particular, he proved himself to be a solid run blocker, which is to be expected given his size.
Brown caught three passes for 38 yards in an opening day victory, and seemed to be on the right track, but the following week, he caught just one of four passes, dropping one and fumbling the one pass he did catch. By the end of the first six games, he caught 12 passes for just 94 yards with two drops.
It was at that point that the Steelers activated rookie Martavis Bryant, and he took off immediately. Brown spent most of the rest of the year on the inactive list, never playing again on offense, before being released. The Steelers chose not to sign him to the practice squad, which they had the option of doing.
It is somewhat surprising to see how quickly Brown fell out of favor. He seemed to epitomize the jack of all trades, master of none. He simply did nothing particularly well enough to stick out, and the coaching staff evidently felt they’d seen what he could offer, choosing to move on.