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: Jordan Berry
Experience: 4 Years
One of the very rare instances this offseason in which I’m covering a player after the Steelers have already made plans for them, Jordan Berry has been inked for two more seasons in Pittsburgh after becoming a free agent following four years here.
Berry, who made nearly $2 million last season on what was the equivalent of an original-round restricted free agent tender, signed a two-year contract worth $3.7 million in total. His cap hit for this season is just $1.525 million, even less than last season, though it will be $2.175 million in 2020 with a base salary of $1.8 million.
Though he is not coming off his best season, his presence marks the first glimpse of personnel consistency that the Steelers have seen at the punter position since before Daniel Sepulveda starting repeatedly tearing up his knee. Not one player between Sepulveda and Berry started and completed more than one season here, whether it was Jeremy Kapinos or Drew Butler or Mat McBriar or Zoltan Mesko or even Adam Podlesh and Brian Moorman.
Just because they have found that he is good enough to re-sign, however, doesn’t mean that continued improvement isn’t in order. He sent four punts for touchbacks, a career-high, and the return unit gave up a touchdown—albeit one that should have been negated by penalty. Even without that, however, it would have been the highest return average of his career.
Danny Smith came up in the coaching ranks seeing 40 net yards as the magic number that you want to hit, but the truth is that that has become too low a standard for the way the position has evolved. 15 kickers average 40 net yards or more last season. It’s become the expected, the average. Berry averaged 38.8.
The team still values his directional punting and placement, but he doesn’t have a strong leg and even when he gets some distance, the hangtime is limited, so that’s always going to limit the unit as a whole. But given the carousel that came before him, perhaps they can live with it.