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: Markus Wheaton
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 4 Years
I must confess that I quite frankly forgot about Markus Wheaton while I was going through the wide receiver depth chart during my exit meeting check list, but, quite frankly, he had a season that he would like to forget himself, so I suppose we could all it even.
That fact was actually quite unfortunate, at least for him anyway, because this was to be his contract year, the year in which he proves himself and earns a nice big contract for himself in a few days when he is scheduled to become a free agent. It’s unfortunate for the Steelers as well since that will impact any potential compensatory pick they could have coming their way in 2018.
That tends to lead me in the direction of looking to re-sign him, perhaps to a one-year ‘prove it’ deal for a modest salary that will keep him with the Steelers in 2017, and have him motivated to cash in in free agency a year from now.
That works out for both sides, giving the team a quality depth player who has the capability of starting, and one who knows that the pressure is on him to perform, and the better he performs, the better return on investment the Steelers will get back from his free agency deal a year from now.
Because as it is right now, there isn’t even much to recap about Wheaton’s most recent season, as he spent most of it sidelined or on injured reserve. Dealing with a lower body injury in training camp, he suffered a shoulder injury in the one preseason game he played and that sat him for the first two games. He returned for the third game only to drop three passes, including a touchdown.
He did have a 30-yard touchdown reception a couple games later, which was pretty much his only highlight of the season, but he didn’t get many targets. He was frankly behind the eight-ball, having missed so much practice while others got his reps.
Wheaton showed the sort of player he could be after the bye week of the 2015 season, even while working with two other wide receivers who get a lot of targets. I do think there is an awfully good player in there, but another team would be more likely to get it out of him, as happened with Emmanuel Sanders, for want of a bigger role.