The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the 2019 season much as they did the 2018 season, by allowing their playoff fate slip out of their grasp. Slow starts and slow finishes permeated both campaigns, with strong runs in between. But while the results were the same missing the playoffs, the means were quite different.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we. But that they still managed to go 8-8 without Ben Roethlisberger, and with the general quality of play that they faced along the way, I suppose things could have been worse.
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: Javon Hargrave
Position: Defensive Tackle
Experience: 4 Years
For the sake of sanity, because Cameron Heyward just recently did extensive media rounds and thus we are covering quite a bit of what he had to say this past week, I’m going to skip covering him for the exit meeting series until we stop seeing his name in three or four headlines a day (yes, I know that it’s thanks to me).
So we’ll skip ahead one spot down the line to defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who played the biggest role yet of his career in 2019 thanks to the long-term injury suffered by Stephon Tuitt. The veteran defensive end was limited to just five games plus five snaps before going down for the remainder of the season.
The bulk of his snaps had to be divided between Tyson Alualu and Hargrave, with the latter regularly and pretty consistently seeing around 75 percent of the playing time from the time of Tuitt’s injury through to the end of the season.
He was able to turn things up, registering a career-high 60 tackles, which is quite a bit for his position, adding another four sacks to give him 10 and a half since the start of the 2018 season. He also had seven tackles for loss and six quarterback hits, plus a forced fumble that was recovered and returned for a touchdown.
Now for the sad part: unfortunately, Hargrave played well enough in his relatively limited role in the Steelers’ scheme that the most likely scenario to unfold in free agency is for him to sign a pretty sizable multi-year contract with a team that employs a 4-3 defense, who can afford to pay him more than Pittsburgh could because more would be asked of him.
This instantly makes nose tackle a significant priority, though not one to be given priority resources (obviously). If they can get somebody in free agency like Andrew Billings, that would be nice, but they might have to draft somebody in the middle rounds—and count on Daniel McCullers.