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: Mike Hilton
Experience: 3 Years
We can’t, of course, forget about the final starting defensive position, the nickel cornerback, and Mike Hilton is coming off a strong year, something of a return to form over 2018, a year in which he did spend much of it battling an injury that he suffered early in the year.
The most notable difference, particularly statistically, was that Hilton was able to get closer to the ball last season than he had ever been before. His 11 passes defenses were the highest of his career after having six in 2017 and then eight in 2018. He also got his fourth interception of his career.
But as we well know, of course, his game is not limited to his work in coverage. He also continued his strong run defense, finishing with another six tackles for loss among his 63 total tackles, which is a significant total for somebody in his position. He also had a sack and a half with five quarterback hits, so he spent a good amount of time behind the line of scrimmage for the Steelers last season.
Hilton is now entering his fourth season, and is scheduled to be a restricted free agent. He was already hoping to get a new contract last year, so it goes without saying that he will be looking to get that long-term deal in 2020 before the regular season begins.
Based on his play on the field, I do think he’s earned it, but can the Steelers afford to pay him, with their salary cap situation? They have Cameron Sutton to consider as well, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, and what about the developing Justin Layne? You need to have somewhere for him to play, I suppose, and you’re already paying starter money to two others at the position, with an All-Pro safety contract coming up in a couple of years.