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: Daniel McCullers
Experience: 6 Years
Six years. six years already of Daniel McCullers. And a total of 605 snaps on defense over that course of time. To be quite frank, that is actually a higher number than I was expecting, but he did play 131 defensive snaps in 2019, which was the second-most he has seen in his career.
This was hard to envision two years ago during John Mitchell’s final season as the defensive line coach. McCullers was in the final year of his rookie contract and had lost the backup defensive tackle spot to L.T. Walton, who had at that point been exclusively working at defensive end.
Still, the Steelers decided to re-sign him on a one-year contract, and new defensive line coach Karl Dunbar has been able to get a bit more out of him. He played over 100 snaps in 2018, finishing with five tackles and a sack.
McCullers had retaken the backup defensive tackle job from Walton that season, and Walton was not even re-signed for 2019. This past year, he finished the season with eight tackles, which is tied for the second-most he has had in a single season. While he did not register a sack (and for the first time in his career, even a quarterback hit), he did have one pass defensed.
Given the fact that the Steelers are expected to lose starting defensive tackle Javon Hargrave as an unrestricted free agent, McCullers, who signed a two-year contract last offseason, could be in line for the most prominent role of his career in 2020.
That depends upon how the team is able to address the defensive line this offseason. If they make any kind of ‘significant’ signing among outside free agents, it may well be at this position, to bring in somebody like Andrew Billings. If not, ‘Shade Tree’ may inherit many of the snaps himself.