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: Fitzgerald Toussaint
Position: Running Back
Experience: 3 Years
He isn’t exactly everybody’s favorite player, but given that the Steelers have seen fit to re-sign him offseason, it would not be right to skip over him during our exit meeting process. Fitzgerald Toussaint has been in the Steelers’ system for a few years now, and is back for yet another, though is not guaranteed a roster spot.
Scheduled to be a restricted free agent, the team chose not to tender him, which would have paid him nearly $2 million, a price tag he clearly does not merit. Instead, they waited until the start of the new league year, signing him to a one-year, veteran-minimum contract that included no signing bonus, meaning that there will be no dead money charge if he fails to make the 53-man roster.
In the meantime, thanks to roster displacement, Toussaint’s contract only moved the needle on the team’s salary cap figure by $150K, which is not exactly a lot when you are working from $177.2 million.
The former undrafted free agent did not actually make the initial 53-man roster, and was not expected to, though he did not lose his spot to the one that was expected. With the signing of Knile Davis and the drafting of James Conner, they figured to be the favorites to back up Le’Veon Bell.
Instead, another former undrafted free agent, Terrell Watson, unseated both Davis and Toussaint. Davis, the veteran, remained unsigned, but Toussaint was retained on the practice squad. I’m not sure if he has practice squad eligibility left, so this could be a make-or-break year for him.
Perhaps it’s worth noting that he said in December he turned down offers to join other teams before he was promoted to the 53-man roster in late November, he and Watson trading places. Watson did not sign a Reserve/Future contract with the Steelers after the season ended, joining the New York Giants instead.
He didn’t play much once he was called up, of course. Even when Bell rested in the season finale, Stevan Ridley, who was signed to replace Conner after he suffered a knee injury, was the workhorse in that game. But Toussaint is a player that they trust to know what he’s doing and can be left in for pass protection in addition to contributing on special teams—and not just as the up back on kick returns. He plays on other units as well.