The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2017 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Nevertheless, 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: Marcus Gilbert
Position: Right Tackle
Experience: 7 Years
There is a certain point at which is becomes apparent that some players more than others have a harder time staying on the field, and seven-year veteran right tackle Marcus Gilbert would certainly be one of them. He has had about one fully healthy season in his career, and that season was not in 2017.
He suffered a hamstring injury early on in the season, and he reaggravated the injury when he returned initially, which resulted in it wiping away about half of the first eight games in terms of total playing time. Then he was handed a four-game suspension right in the middle of the second half of the season, so he really only ended up playing about half the year.
His absence afforded Chris Hubbard a golden opportunity to showcase himself, but that is a topic for another time. while Gilbert spent far too much time on the sideline, it is undeniable that he continued to demonstrate his abilities as one of the top right tackles in the game when he was on the field.
Interestingly, as but one testimony to that point, Pro Football Focus rated Gilbert as their 15th-highest-graded tackle in the league last season, which is a cumulative metric, in spite of the fact that he played less than half the snaps of the vast majority of those graded above him. The only other highly-graded players with relatively limited snaps were Jason Peters and Joe Thomas, easily two of the top left tackles in the league.
I think we have over the past couple of years sufficiently covered Gilbert’s physical and mental transformation at about the mid-point of his career, and how he has taken his game to another level in recent years.
The only thing that has been holding him back has been his own body, chiefly due to injuries, though that suspension for performance-enhancing substances I sincerely hope is a mere aberration.
At the moment, Gilbert has two years left on his contract and is a relative bargain at his current rate—at least if he were to stay on the field more. If he continues to play as he has, he should expect an extension in 2019.