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: Shamarko Thomas
Experience: 4 Years
We are finally wrapping up our slate of exit meeting recaps for the 2016 season, and we are concluding with one of the players who are no longer on the team, in this case four-year veteran safety Shamarko Thomas, a former fourth-round draft pick who failed to earn a starting job and has instead carved out a niche for himself on special teams.
Unfortunately, that’s also where his season ended, but we’ll get to that later. On the season, Thomas did manage to play five snaps on defense, but he saw 126 snaps on special teams, logging that number in just the eight games that he was limited to.
If there were just one thing that Thomas has been criticized for—and believe me, there isn’t just one, though not all of them are always justified—it would be that he has had trouble staying healthy. In four seasons, he has never played in 16 games. While he only missed one in 2015 and two his rookie year, he missed five games in 2014, and the majority of last season.
But he missed the final four games of the regular season and all of the postseason after he suffered a concussion covering a return against the Giants. The Steelers kept him on the roster for two more games before they put him on injured reserve with two more games to play, ending his season.
I always find it concerning when a player is placed on injured reserve due to a concussion, although it doesn’t necessarily always mean that it is a serious issue. In Thomas’ case, he does have a history of concussions going back to his college days, so it is a worry, and we haven’t gotten any kind of update.
On the other hand, a quick glimpse at his Twitter page shows all sorts of workout videos. But it also shows a lot of messages about perseverance about his future in the league.
Right now, it doesn’t really seem like the Steelers have any plans of re-signing him, although that could change during the summer on a one-year minimum deal. In spite of his critics, I consider Thomas to be a standout special-teams performer, and his seven tackles in eight games played is just one indicator of that.