2018 Player Exit Meetings – ILB L.J. Fort

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: L.J. Fort

Position: Inside Linebacker

Experience: 4 Years

It’s taken a long time—he originally came into the league in 2012 as a college free agent with the Cleveland Browns—but inside linebacker L.J. Fort finally accrued his fourth NFL season toward free agency in 2018, making him eligible to be an unrestricted free agent for the first time.

And that’s following a season in which he finally had a meaningful role in a defense for more than a game or two. Fort has been on the roster for almost every game in the past three years, but in the second half of the 2018 season, he began to log a good amount of snaps, first as a dime replacement linebacker, and then on a more full-time basis late in the season.

He never recorded more than 20 tackles in any season before this year, but in 2018 he had 48, and notched a sack as well. The surprising statistic is that he didn’t record any passes defensed, when he had five last season over the last seven or eight games, including the postseason.

The Steelers reportedly would like to bring Fort back in 2019, which is no surprise. He would continue to be a regular on special teams, as he has been for most of the past three years, which would be his foremost role.

But even though the team seems fully intent on bringing in a new starter at inside linebacker, either in free agency or in the draft, Fort would still serve as valuable depth, especially now more than ever after he has earned the coaches’ trust and gained that in-game regular season experience that has eluded him.

Already 29 years old, it took him a long time to get to this point, but he’s finally a player that is getting some respect. I’m not sure how much of a market he might have, but it’s not impossible that he gets signed away by some team.

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