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: Chris Hubbard
Experience: 3 Years
It has taken a few years but I believe that former undrafted free agent offensive lineman Chris Hubbard is finally beginning to earn some fans’ respect. It is a slow and tedious journey—and to be sure, he is far from becoming a fan favorite in any sense of the term—but Hubbard’s career took a significant step forward in his fourth year with the Steelers.
He spent the first year on the practice squad before making the 53-man roster the following year, even though many expected that he would not in 2014, nor in 2015, due to some struggles that he had in the preseason, though those struggles often came in positions that were not the usual for him, particularly his snaps logged at center.
Hubbard spent most of this preseason if I recall getting flexed out at tackle, both the left and the right side, and that turned out to come in handy when Marcus Gilbert went down early in the year with a foot injury and their free agent swing tackle Ryan Harris ended up going down with him.
He ended up being pretty much the last option at that point, and wound up starting three games at right tackle, during which he handled himself considerably better than perhaps the most optimistic of observers might have hoped for. The team did lose two of those games, although they overlapped with Ben Roethlisberger’s knee injury.
After Gilbert was healthy enough to return to the starting lineup following the bye week, Hubbard did still continue to play as the Steelers began using him as an additional lineman, which is something that they did occasionally in 2015.
But Pittsburgh did so fairly extensively in the second half of the season, over 20 percent of the time in total and frequently well over 25 percent in certain games, depending on the circumstances.
Hubbard has grown a lot as a player and as a person over the course of the past four years, and I believe his teammates and coaches, and the front office, recognize that. They applied a restricted free agent tender on him that will pay him about $1.8 million this year. His versatility—able to play six positions—makes him very valuable.