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: Tyson Alualu
Position: Defensive End
Experience: 8 Years
Now that we have gotten all of the offensive players of note out of the way, it’s time to turn our attention to some of the contributors on the defensive side of the ball who were not starts for the Steelers last season, and the most significant of those names would have to be veteran defensive end Tyson Alualu.
A former 2010 first-round draft pick, the team brought him in last offseason as a free agent addition, signing him to a two-year, $6 million contract, and he proved to be worth every penny, especially since he was forced to play an early role on the defense with Stephon Tuitt suffering an arm injury on the second play of the season.
He ended up playing the vast majority of that game and the other games that Tuitt missed, and he also was given the opportunity to start the regular season finale in place of Cameron Heyward, who was given the game off to rest because the Steelers had already clinched a bye week by that point.
In spite of the fact that his work as a pass-rusher left something to be desired, he still managed to post a career-high four sacks on the season, two of them coming in the season finale against the Cleveland Browns.
But where he excelled was against the run, and he was probably the best run defender on the entire defense for Pittsburgh a year ago. Playing around 450 snaps during the season, he recorded a very impressive 39 tackles for his playing time, and that included 13 stops against the run, the best run-stop percentage among defensive linemen on the team.
Of course, the team didn’t get to use Alualu much as he was intended, given the circumstances, as a super-sub to spell Heyward and Tuitt. Provided that the starters manage to stay healthy in 2018, he should see more typical rotational work.
While he will be turning 31 in about two months, I would consider offering Alualu a short extension on his contract. He proved his value last season, and I would like to ensure that I have him signed for more than just the next season.