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: William Gay
Experience: 11 Years
Before anyone says anything, yes, I am fully aware that the Steelers have already released William Gay ahead of his 12th season in the NFL. I still feel that he deserves a proper installment in this series, especially if it is to be the end of his playing career.
Gay was the last man standing from Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s inaugural draft class, though it had a good run. aside from gay, Matt Spaeth and Lawrence Timmons had nice, long careers. Spaeth has already retired, though the other team presumably intend to further their careers. Both are currently street free agents.
The 2017 season was the 10th for Gay in Pittsburgh during his 11th season overall, and it was the season in which he played the smallest role that he ha seen since his rookie year. Just a year prior, he was an opening-day starter on the outside. In 2017, he opened as a rotational nickel slot defender before being reduced solely to dime work by halftime and for the remainder of the season.
That is not the say that he didn’t still continue to find ways to contribute during his time on the field. He still played roughly a quarter or so of the Steelers’ defensive snaps last season, routinely seeing double-digit snaps in all but two games, both of those being the two games against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In spite of his relatively few snaps, Gay still managed to record 19 tackles while adding three turnovers. He forced two fumbles and recorded an interception to go along with three additional passes defensed.
Much of his work did come in the box, and he played the run well, missing few tackles and recording ‘stops’ along the way, which is to say he prevented the offense from having a successful play.
But the wheels of time don’t stop for anybody, and Gay’s time seemed to be at an end, at the age of 33. With Artie Burns, Joe Haden, and Mike Hilton ahead of him, and the rookies Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen beating down the door for opportunities to play, the decision was made to let him go.
As a player. But perhaps someday, even relatively soon, we might see him back in camp as a coaching intern.