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: Ramon Foster
Position: Left Guard
Experience: 11 Years
Here’s an interesting conversation to have. In a year in which you’re tight against the cap and have a prized defensive player you have made it a priority to retain, what do you do with your veteran left guard who’s 34 years old and coming off his worst season since he entered the lineup as a full-time starter?
That’s the question the front office is facing with Ramon Foster right now, and even he realizes that it’s one that they’re having. He told reporters shortly after the season as much, and essentially said that if they are going to release them, he would hope that they do it early, rather than let it linger until the last minute.
Originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent following the 2009 NFL Draft, Foster has started well over 100 games for the team during that time and has been unchallenged at left guard since 2013, with a large number of starts already under his belt by then.
He has in many ways been the most consistent linemen in many of the most recent seasons. But he is also very much on the downswing of his career. He can still play—and frankly many have exaggerated the negative qualities of his performance, both this year and especially in other years—but in a game commanded by a salary cap, you don’t get to keep everyone you want around.
I think Foster knows he could have played better in 2019. There were also a lot of extenuating circumstances, including an injury of his own, that likely contributed to his play slipping a bit. He certainly believes he can start in 2020. Will that be for the Steelers, or will he line up in a different jersey for the first, and perhaps last time of his career?