The Pittsburgh Steelers have a major set challenges facing them for the offseason of 2019 after they managed to miss the postseason for the first time in five years. The failure has been taken especially grievously because of the fact that the team was in position to control their own fate even for homefield advantage with six games remaining before dropping four games.
And so they find themselves getting the exit meeting process underway at least two weeks earlier than they have had to in years, since they have made it to at least the Divisional Round since 2015. Hopefully they used those extra two weeks with purpose.
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 2018 season.
Player: Zach Banner
Experience: 2 Years
Zach Banner, the son of Lincoln Kennedy, is a mammoth 6’8”, 360-pound obstruction, even bigger than Daniel McCullers. A fourth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2017, he did not make their squad, but did land with the Cleveland Browns for the bulk of that season.
Banner bounced around last summer but ultimately landed with the Steelers during training camp, arriving in time to suit up for the final three preseason games. That three-game stint was enough of an opportunity to convince Mike Tomlin, Mike Munchak, and the rest of the coaching staff and front office, that he was worth holding on to.
While he never dressed for a single game all seasons as the Steelers’ ninth lineman behind fellow reserves B.J. Finney, Chukwuma Okorafor, and Matt Feiler, the fact that he was kept on the roster all year when there were back-end moves being made says something about what they think of his potential.
While Munchak is no longer here, Shaun Sarrett is now at the helm, and he has spent more time working with the tackles in recent years while learning from the master offensive line coach. If Banner can keep his weight under control, the Steelers are hoping to unlock Banner’s potential as he heads into his third season in 2019.
But his job isn’t safe, because there will be a lot of competition. Behind starters Alejandro Villanueva and Marcus Gilbert are the aforementioned Okorafor and Feiler, though Feiler will surely be tabbed as an inside reserve in 2019 due to the outside depth.
Then there is Jerald Hawkins returning from injured reserve after he suffered a season-ending injury in the spring. Hawkins and Gilbert will both be unrestricted free agents in 2020, while Feiler and Banner will be restricted free agents, provided that they accrue a season this year.