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: Alejandro Villanueva
Position: Left Tackle
Experience: 5 Years
It’s almost hard to believe that Alejandro Villanueva has been around on the roster for five seasons already. He has now encompassed 80 total games, with 74 consecutive starts, and has never missed a game yet in his career. In fact, he has hardly missed a snap. He has played every snap of every game of the past two seasons.
He is an ironman, and that is certainly one of his best attributes. Especially considering the revolving doors that they have had at tackle at times in their recent past due to injury, his health and consistent presence has been an asset.
In terms of on-field work, the 2019 season was not his best, but it wasn’t his worst, either. I do think he rightfully was not voted into the Pro Bowl for a third consecutive season—though who were voted in were certainly more deserving—but no doubt he still has Pro Bowl talent.
Arguably, Villanueva’s past season is primarily marked for a few bad games, including the big loss to the Cleveland Browns, which was one of his worst games of the past couple of years. One also has to factor in the fact that he had to block for three different quarterbacks with different tendencies, as well as three different primary running backs at different times of the year.
It’s hard to block consistently when you’re not blocking for consistent personnel. That wasn’t just an issue for Villanueva but for the offensive line as a whole. James Conner missed about half the season, while Ben Roethlisberger missed almost the whole year, so there you go.
He is now entering the final year of his current contract, and he will be turning 32 shortly into the 2020 season. He played on a bargain contract for the past three years, relative to the average price of a left tackle. What salary will it take to extend him now?