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: J.C. Hassenauer
Position: Interior OL
Experience: 0 Years
Frankly, I wish I were writing about Fred Johnson here, or even Patrick Morris, but both of them were claimed off of waivers this past season after the Steelers waived them at one point or another during the season.
Johnson, a rookie undrafted free agent, had been on the 53-man roster the entire time before he was waived to make room for an injury need at another position. He was claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals and figures to factor into their competition in 2020. As for Morris, he was on the practice squad before being called up late in the year, and then was claimed after he was waived again.
That’s where Hassenauer comes in, because he was signed to the practice squad around the time Morris was promoted, which was due to Maurkice Pouncey’s two-game suspension. That was in late November. After Mason Rudolph was injured, Hassenauer was promoted to the 53-man roster for the final game of the season.
Originally signed from the Alliance of American Football after that league folded, Hassenauer is an Alabama alumnus who was regarded as one of the better interior offensive linemen from the now-defunct league, having played for the Steelers’ affiliate team, the Birmingham Iron.
While he did not initially make the practice squad, he made enough of an impression that his name was kept in their rolodex. With Johnson and Morris gone, he figures to actually have a reasonable shot at making the team in 2020, depending upon what else happens between now and then.
Still, he will have competition, as the Steelers are almost sure to draft somebody. Derwin Gray, a seventh-round pick a year ago who can play guard or tackle (and I believe they may have even worked him at center briefly), will also be interested in adding his voice to the competition.