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: Mark Barron
Position: Inside Linebacker
Experience: 8 Years
Signed to a two-year, $12 million contract, it’s pretty widely anticipated that veteran inside linebacker Mark Barron is only going to see one of those two years. Things would have been a lot different had the Steelers not traded up in the first round last year for Devin Bush, but they did, and he’s not going anywhere…which means there’s a good chance Barron will.
In fact, he has been frequently singled out as one of the likeliest veteran cuts around the league, including by Pro Football Focus. Barron’s cap hit in 2020 will be over $8 million, though they would only save $5.25 million by releasing him, because the rest is a part of the signing bonus that he received in 2019, prorated over the life of the contract.
The reason he can be expendable is because the team also has Vince Williams, who was a primary starter in 2017 and 2018. With Bush anticipated to be fully up to speed and ready to take on the responsibility of leading the defense, Williams should be more than sufficient to serve as the buck.
And then you have a young linebacker like Ulysees Gilbert III, who could potentially work his way into sub-packages, the way Terence Garvin and L.J. Fort have in the past, which further makes Barron expendable.
And it’s not that he played awfully, even though many Steelers fans would disagree. He did get better over the course of the season as the year wore on. One of his best games was against his former team, the Los Angeles Rams, in actuality.
But in a year in which they’ll be looking for salary cap space, it’s just too easy to pencil him in as a cut, along with Anthony Chickillo. These are either backups or marginal starters with viable alternatives already on the roster, who are set to make low- or mid-level starter money. They just don’t have the cap space to support that.