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: Mike Mitchell
Experience: 9 Years
I suppose it is fitting that Mike Mitchell’s exit meeting article would fall on this day, when the defensive backs have their day for workouts at the Combine. It’s quite possible that the Steelers will be taking a look at Mitchell’s replacement on the Indianapolis field later today.
After a modest five-year career with Oakland and Carolina, the Steelers signed the former second-rounder in 2014 to a five-year contract worth $25 million, bringing him in to replace Ryan Clark. During his four seasons here, he has worked with Troy Polamalu, Will Allen, Robert Golden, and Sean Davis as non-injury-replacement starters, and that doesn’t even include the aborted pairing with Shamarko Thomas.
While he has never had much stability around him, he hasn’t really brought in a ton of stability with him in large part because he has never been able to stay healthy. He has played with nicks of varying degrees of severity in each of his four seasons here, though it only began costing him games this past season.
The 2017 season was easily his worst in Pittsburgh, and predictably, he spent it laboring through injury. He suffered a hamstring or ankle injury—it was never fully clarified—in training camp and went on to miss most of it. In fact, he was heavily rotated out in the first couple of games of the season because of that injury. And left a couple of other games with injuries during the year.
For whatever reason, the Steelers kept Mitchell back as the deep safety with greater frequency this past year, but he had by far his least impactful season. He came up with just 53 tackles, which even on a per-game basis is a drop-off from prior years, and he produced no turnovers, recording just two passes defensed. He forced six turnovers with 18 passes defensed combined in the two seasons prior.
The soon-to-be 31-year-old has a base salary of $5 million for the 2018 season, and the team needs cap space. There have been reports claiming that the team doesn’t believe he has the athletic ability to do what they ask of him anymore, and that it will bring about his release. We will likely know in the next week or so, or perhaps as early as Tuesday, if they need the room to fit a franchise tag for Le’Veon Bell.