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: Darrius Heyward-Bey
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 10 Years
10 years. That’s not necessarily an extremely long career for a former top-10 draft pick wide receiver, but Darrius Heyward-Bey’s is a different kind of story than the typical high-pedigreed specialist. The elite speedster flamed out in fairly short order as a wide receiver, but he was able to reinvent himself as a special teamer, and has kept himself employed for the past five years in Pittsburgh, his longest stay at any one spot in the NFL.
While he does occasionally receive the opportunity to contribute on offense, those opportunities have become more and more scarce, with 2018 perhaps representing his fewest in a while, maybe of his entire career.
It wasn’t so long ago, just back in 2016, that he was temporarily given a starting role, even if that strong up due to injuries and suspensions that year. But he still had a role as a blocker and as a deep threat beyond that, roles that have largely gone to others such as JuJu Smith-Schuster now.
But one would be hard-pressed to find a faster gunner in the NFL. He is underrated in this capacity because he doesn’t get the tackle numbers, but that’s because his speed allows him to get downfield in a hurry, forcing fair catches instead.
Heyward-Bey is a four-phase special teamer who contributes on both kick and punt coverage and return units, playing a central role in all four. For those who take the time to look, his absence is notable when he’s not there.
Off the field, and in the locker room, he is also a valuable leader and veteran who has been a positive influence on many of the younger players. He may not contribute a lot on offense, but he knows the offense, and has helped a lot of players learn it. He has the role of coach in his future, I’m sure.