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: Robert Golden
Experience: 5 Years
It’s kind of hard to believe that Robert Golden has already been in the for five years. Originally an undrafted free agent in 2012 out of Arizona, transitioning from cornerback to safety, the player Mike Tomlin refers to as “Little Dawk’”—as in Brian Dawkins—has mostly carved out a niche for himself as a strong player on special teams, but he has taken steps as a defensive contributor over the past two years as well.
In fact, after receiving playing time and starting for three games—nearly four—during the 2015 season, the Steelers advanced into the 2016 season with Golden as their starting strong safety. He made seven starts last season, playing in 13 games—he missed three due to an injury—but he ultimately lost his starting role to rookie second-round safety Sean Davis.
Golden looked the part early on. In the second game of the season against the Bengals, he recorded nine tackles with a pass defensed, but that would be the only ball he got his hands on during the year, and he would only record six or more tackles in a game three times.
The special teams captain suffered an injury in the third game of the season that forced him to miss the next two games, but he did return to play after that, recording seven tackles in his first game back, and three in the final game before the bye week.
The coaching staff had plans for Davis after the bye week, however, and they began rotating Golden and Davis for a couple of games while the rookie ate up more and more playing time. Before long, Golden was on the bench during the team’s defensive snaps.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Golden in terms of being a defensive contributor. Resuming a starting role seems unlikely at this point, but he isn’t going anywhere. He has two more years on his contract and is integral on special teams.
What will be interesting to see is whether or not the Steelers still value his defensive abilities. They have worked him in over the span of three seasons now as their dime back, and that is a role that he could serve in 2017.