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: Robert Spillane
Experience: 1 Year
It’s hard to root against the underdog, you know? And Robert Spillane would certainly qualify. While he would briefly spend some time in 2018 on a 53-man roster, he would eventually find a bigger opportunity last season with the Steelers, even if birthed out of the misfortune of others.
Originally signed to a futures deal all the way back in February, Spillane would last the length of the offseason, among those who were let go during the cuts at the end of the preseason, and among those who were immediately signed to the practice squad. He had a strong performance, both defensively and on special teams, during the preseason, and that included work in coverage, as well.
There was a brief period during the middle of the year when he was actually released from the practice squad in favor of Alize Mack, a tight end, after Xavier Grimble was injured. Mack would be released a week later, replaced by a quarterback after Mason Rudolph was injured. Spillane was then brought back after that quarterback was let go.
He remained put on the practice squad for another month or so until rookie linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III suffered a season-ending injury and was put on injured reserve. From that point on he would play in eight games, seeing 168 snaps on special teams, and registering 11 tackles.
That kind of production on special teams will absolutely get you noticed, and his play in the preseason suggested, at least to me, that he may be a little less of a liability athletically to play on defense than is Tyler Matakevich.
His best chance of making the team, though, is if the Steelers fail to re-sign Dirty Red, regarded as their best special teams player but who saw a career-low in defensive snaps last season at just 16. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent, while Spillane is under their control for three more years.