The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2016 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Never the less, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Al-Hajj Shabazz
Experience: 1 Year
As it currently stands, cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz should probably be considered the fourth player in the pecking order behind the two starters and their slot cornerback. With Justin Gilbert released and Senquez Golson an annual mystery, Shabazz, the first-year player, was the only other cornerback to receive playing time or spend time on the 53-man roster in 2016.
In fact, he spent a majority of the season on the 53-man roster, including a brief layover in Houston. You see, the former undrafted free agent did some bouncing around over the course of the season, a journey that included him being claimed off waivers at one point by the Texans.
Originally making the practice squad, Shabazz was promoted to the 53-man roster for Week Five after the Steelers moved Golson to the injured reserve list. He quickly went back down, but then was called up again during the bye week and spent the next five weeks with the team before being released again.
Shabazz was at that point claimed off waivers and spent the Week 14 game facing the Colts two weeks after doing so with Pittsburgh. But he was released again soon after and the Steelers were able to add him back. He was on the roster for the final two regular season games and all three postseason contests, active for all but the latter two.
If I’m not mistaken, Shabazz’s only playing time on defense came in his first game against the Jets, when Gilbert was dealing with an injury. Subsequently, he only saw time on special teams. But he recorded three tackles on special teams against the Dolphins in the Wildcard Round, producing a fumble in the process. He technically recorded two tackles on the return on which he forced the fumble, since he tackled the returner who recovered his own fumble.
Still, he was a healthy scratch for the final two postseason games. But the Steelers obviously like him to at least some degree if they were willing to give him so many roles and even reclaim him after losing him initially. They’ve had opportunities to recoup players lost to other teams before and didn’t always make the effort.