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: Matt Feiler
Position: Right Tackle
Experience: 3 Years
Despite technically entering his fourth season in 2020, Matt Feiler has actually been in the NFL for six years already. He spent the first three years of his career marinating on practice squads, the second and third being on the Steelers’ own squad before he finally made the 53-man roster outright in 2017.
But that is why we are talking about him as a 27-year-old full-time starter for the first time in his career in 2019. He did of course start 10 games during the 2018 season as an injury replacement for Marcus Gilbert, but it wasn’t until this past season that he was actually recognized as the starting right tackle, and that was only after competing for the job in the offseason.
But he did compete, and won, pretty handily, going up against Chukwuma Okorafor primarily, but also Zach Banner and Jerald Hawkins, the latter eventually being traded rather than being released with the roster cuts.
The good news is that he played like a starter. He doesn’t have the same talent level that Gilbert had in the latter stages of his career—that being Pro Bowl-worthy if he could simply stay on the field long enough—but he does have the durability factor down.
In fact, he played every snap of the 2019 season. He technically did not play in one game he dressed for last season, but he was healthy enough to dress at least. They chose to start Okorafor and leave Feiler as an emergency option.
This year, he will be a restricted free agent. Presumably, the Steelers will tender him. It’s less clear if they would give him a long-term contract, with Okorafor and Banner behind him. Alejandro Villanueva is also entering the final year of his contract, so it remains to be seen if they have extension talks with him down the road.