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: Robert Golden
Experience: 3 Years
During his three years with the Steelers, safety Robert Golden has been able to establish himself as one of the team’s core special teams players. He was recognized by his teammates for this role a year ago when they voted him the team captain for special teams.
Last season, he registered 10 tackles or assists, though he found himself drawing flags early on in the season, three in total. The penalties subsided, however, and he continued his solid special teams play.
Where he has yet to make much of any impact in his career is on defense. The former college cornerback turned safety has only logged about 100 snaps in his career, with a small smattering of tackles. Much of that came as a rookie, playing cornerback.
Still, there’s no doubt that he has provided a good deal of value to the Steelers, and the organization would certainly like to keep him around. This will be especially true if Troy Polamalu has indeed played his last snap for the Steelers.
Remember, in 2013, when Will Allen left in free agency, the Steelers headed into that year with just Golden and Shamarko Thomas as the reserve safeties. Golden could find himself as a key reserve this season with Thomas expected to enter the starting lineup.
The issue the Steelers currently face, however, is determining his worth. Golden is currently a restricted free agent, and tendering him would cost just north of $1.5 million. Does Golden provide that much value to the team?
The team does have other options, of course. They could attempt to sign him to a modest multi-year contract in the next two days that would come with a cap hit lower than the tender, or they could take the risk of letting him hit free agency before attempting to re-sign him to a veteran-minimum contract, which the team has done before with other players.
It really all depends on how the Steelers view Golden going forward. Do they see him as a player that they can trust to put out on the field on defense and log some snaps? They have put him on the field before in certain situations, particularly as a dime defender early in the 2013 season, but there no clear indication of where they are currently leaning.