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: Daniel McCullers
Position: Nose Tackle
Experience: 4 Years
Because why not, right? Pretty much all of us assumed he was gone, but yesterday the Steelers saw fit to re-sign nose tackle Daniel McCullers. Chances are it is a one-year veteran-minimum contract with no signing bonus like Fitzgerald Toussaint signed.
Originally a sixth-round draft pick in 2014, McCullers was drafted because of one thing: being large. After he was selected, the terms “size prospect” and “an obstruction” were used by Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert to describe their interest in the big man from Tennessee.
He was brought in after the likes of Alameda Ta’amu and Hebron Fangupo failed to work out at the position, and it wouldn’t be accurate to say that McCullers ‘worked out’ at the position either, considering that he rarely dressed for games unless one of the top five defensive linemen was injured.
The 2017 season was actually a low point in his career, stuck behind Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Tyson Alualu, and finally, L.T. Walton. Walton was a 2015 sixth-round draft pick, selected as a defensive end but moved primarily to defensive tackle this past season, where he served as the gameday backup to Hargrave over McCullers.
As a third-year player in 2016, he also failed to provide any competition for Hargrave in replacing Steve McLendon as the primary nose tackle. Hargrave was a third-round pick, but he was a rookie and was coming from a small school.
McCullers’ continued lack of progress was a regular source of commentary for defensive line coach John Mitchell, basically saying every offseason that this was the year for him to step up if he’s going to do anything in the league. Heyward has said similar things. Instead, he has been unable to even dress on game days.
There still remains a vocal contingent that holds to the belief that McCullers is a very good player who simply is not being played, and that if he were on the field much more, the run defense would be much better.
The reality is that there is a long road ahead between his re-signing in the second week of free agency and his being assured of a post on the 53-man roster. There is a very good chance that the team adds a defensive tackle in the draft this year. After all, they haven’t drafted once since McCullers.