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: Brad Wing
Experience: 2 Years
Brad Wing spent his first year out of college on the Eagles’ offseason roster, but failed to make the team. In January of last year, the Steelers signed him to a futures contract, looking for options to replace the trifecta of mediocrity that they had at the punter position in 2013.
It really didn’t work out that much better, but that wasn’t entirely the Steelers’ fault. Wing was not brought in unchallenged. Among Pittsburgh’s free agent signings was veteran punter Adam Podlesh, who was actually drafted ahead of Daniel Sepulveda in 2007.
Podlesh, of course, had real-world circumstances to tend to, with life-threatening consequences for his wife and newborn child, which prevented him from ever reporting. The upshot of these events is that Wing was given the punting job in spite of a mediocre preseason slate of performances.
Many, including myself, half expected that he would meet the same fate as Drew Butler the year prior, making the final 53-man roster only to lose his place a day or two later after the front office claimed another punter off the waiver wire.
But that was not to be. Wing punted for the Steelers in all 17 games a year ago, including the postseason, and he finished toward the bottom of the league with a punting average of 43.7 yards. His net average of 38.8 yards was an improvement over the collective efforts of the Steelers’ punting carousel from the year before, but still placed Wing 20th league-wide.
Wing was already signed to a one-year contract as an exclusive rights free agent in a no brainer move that contains no downside if he fails to make the team, but the Steelers are obviously not going to allow him to go unchallenged in 2015. They have already added another punter via a futures contract, and they may well seek out another veteran to add to the competition—perhaps Podlesh again.
Wing showed that he has the talent to be a good punter during his college career, but he must work on his consistency going forward, as he put too many poor punts on tape a year ago. What Tomlin claimed that he liked about his young punter, however, was that he seemed to have a good mental makeup, in that he did not allow a poor punt to affect him for the rest of the game. That’s a start, but he needs to cut down on those poor punts altogether.