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: Justin Gilbert
Experience: 3 Years
I’m quickly moving on to Justin Gilbert now because frankly I’m at a very real risk of simply forgetting that he was a part of the Steelers in 2016, considering that he only spent about five or six months in total with the organization from the time that he was acquired via trade to the time that he was released.
The Steelers acquired Gilbert from the Browns via trade in early September just before the start of the regular season, giving up a sixth-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft in order to claim him. They also took on his former first-round pick salary, which was a commitment that they were willing to take on in order to see what a player they once coveted coming out of college would look in their uniform.
As should not be surprising, the cornerback received limited playing time when considering the fact that he only became a part of the team in September. He did receive a handful of snaps against the Chiefs early in the season as he was used in a dime package to coverage their tight end.
He only received playing time on defense in other games once or twice after that, if I recall correctly, and with again a very limited role. When he was dealing with an injury, the team even gave his role away to Al-Hajj Shabazz.
Gilbert returned three kicks during the regular season for 69 yards, averaging 23 yards per return with a long of 32 yards. In the previous season with the Browns, he averaged over 28 yards per kick return on 12 kicks.
In all, he registered three tackles on the season, all of them coming in Week 12 or beyond, and presumably all of them serving in a special teams capacity. He was active for two of the team’s three playoff games, but did not record a statistic.
Facing the prospect of committing to another significant salary, the Steelers released Gilbert in early February. There was confusion at the time as to whether or not his salary was guaranteed, but that proved not to be the case. Gilbert currently remains unsigned and will likely stay that way until after the draft. A reunion with Pittsburgh is not impossible, but it can probably be considered unlikely at this point.