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: Chris Hubbard
Position: Offensive Line
Experience: 4 Years
He’s gone now, signing a well-deserved contract with the Cleveland Browns, and given the retirement of Joe Thomas, it’s pretty much guaranteed that he will start, possibly even at left tackle. Chris Hubbard is one of the most impressive examples of perennial growth and maturity that I have seen in recent years on the Steelers.
While the contract that he ended up signing didn’t look quite as impressive once the details were all revealed—it’s a deal that would be fairly easy to get out of after a year, with little in fully guaranteed money—it’s a contract that pays well and that he has a reasonable chance of seeing at least the majority of.
Once an undrafted free agent seemed barely worth keeping on the practice squad, Hubbard continued to grow every year, doing everything asked of him, learning and performing at every position along the offensive line, including as an extra lineman in the tackle-eligible role.
While he initially earned his keep due to his versatility, he settled in over the past two years at right tackle, taking advantage of the ill fortunes of Marcus Gilbert, whom ne now earns more than. Coupled with an injury to Ryan Harris in 2016, Hubbard has been the team’s primary backup tackle for the past two years, and started more than half a season’s worth in that time.
With the ability to settle and grow into one position, he saw his performance gradually improve, particularly during a four-game stretch in the second half of last season while Gilbert was suspended, by the end of which it was clear that he may well stand to earn a starting job in free agency.
And of course we now know that he did that, or at least it would be quite surprising if he doesn’t start. Hubbard is joined in Cleveland by his former offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, which is a bonus in his transitioning to a new team.
With the Browns being unable to acquire Nate Solder and the draft class frankly looking fairly week at tackle, it’s all the more likely that the Steelers will be seeing Hubbard on the field twice a year starting this autumn.