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: TE Kevin Rader
Experience: 0 Years
Rader was initially signed by the Green Bay Packers as a college free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft out of Youngstown State. A product of Pine-Richland, he had a sort of homecoming after the Steelers signed him to a futures deal upon the conclusion of the 2018 season. In between, he didn’t survive the Packers’ roster cuts, and he was worked out twice by the Cleveland Browns.
He would survive…almost all of the season with the Steelers. While he of course did not make the 53-man roster, he was a part of the original 10-man practice squad, though he did get moved. He was first released at the end of October in order to sign running back Darrin Hall as injuries mounted at that position.
But he would be re-signed a week later, Hall again dumped. He was released again a few weeks later in what was essentially a clerical move. Maurkice Pouncey had been suspended, but they didn’t have to move him yet. In preparation, they released Rader and signed J.C. Hassenauer to the practice squad. Two days later, they promoted Patrick Morris from the practice squad, placed Pouncey on the suspended list, and brought Rader back.
He would survive for the remainder of the season, after which he would again be signed to a futures deal. Of course, the odds are, that is as far as things will go for him. It’s not often that players in his position actually ‘make it’.
The Steelers plan to enter the 2020 season with Vance McDonald and Eric Ebron as their top tight ends, and they have Zach Gentry going into his second season. It remains very possible that the team still addresses the position during the draft as well. Entering his third offseason, it’s hard to see Rader making some kind of jump that will propel him to a roster spot.