The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended a few weeks earlier that they had planned it to, but now that their 2015 campaign has drawn to a conclusion, it’s time to wrap things up and take stock of where they are and how they got there. Part of that process involves holding player exit meetings at the conclusion of each season.
Of course, we’re not privy to the specifics that go on in each of these meetings between head coach and player, and whomever else might be involved in any particular discussion, but if we were conducting them, it might go something like this.
Player: Isaiah Pead
Position: Running Back
Experience: 4 Years
Nobody had a shorter tenure on the Steelers’ 53-man roster last year than running back Isaiah Pead, who was signed at the beginning of November after starting running back Le’Veon Bell was placed on injured reserve following an MCL tear that ended his third season.
Pead, a former 2012 second-round draft pick, was released by the Rams after three game during the 2015 season, one game after their rookie first-round draft pick made his NFL debut, coincidentally, against the Steelers and showed that he was going to be able to play and be just fine.
He spent the next six weeks unemployed before the Steelers signed him, needing a running back, but he only spent two games on the 53-man roster—three weeks in total—before he was released yet again, and he remained unsigned through the duration of the season.
As previously mentioned, Pead was a second-round draft choice, a fact that should not be overlooked. He was selected 50th overall in 2012, while Bell was selected 48th overall just a year later. But after just two games of replacing him on the roster, the Steelers felt they were better suited to promote second-year former undrafted free agent running back Fitzgerald Toussaint from the practice squad.
This all unfolded after Week 10 during the Steelers’ bye week, during which they talked about wanting to get a look at their young running backs on the roster, including the practice squad, none of which had been with the team during camp.
It was during this time that they concluded that Toussaint was more suited to help them during the season, releasing Pead after just a bit more than three weeks, pedigree notwithstanding. Of course, Toussaint eventually ascended even further into the backup role and ended up starting due to injury in the postseason.
The now 26-year-old tore his ACL during the preseason in 2014, and thus missed the entire season, but in his first two seasons, Pead recorded just 17 carries for 75 yards along with 14 receptions for 95 yards, in addition to three fumbles in his career.
In a crowded backfield for the Rams, Pead simply had no place after underperforming expectations relative to his pedigree. But the Steelers were hurting for ball carriers at the time, and he still couldn’t get a foothold on a needy roster. That says about as much as needs to be said on the matter.