The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks a slight improvement from the past two seasons, during which they did not even qualify for the playoffs altogether. They have now done four seasons without securing a victory beyond regular season play.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
They did manage to go 12-4 during the regular season, and secured their first AFC North title since 2017, posting a new franchise record by opening the season with 11 consecutive wins, but of course it all fell apart after that. Their only victory after that required a 17-point comeback.
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 2020 season.
Player: Maurkice Pouncey
Experience: 11 Years
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that the past two seasons of Maurkice Pouncey’s career have not been among his best. With that said, there has also been a lot of hyperbole out there about just how he performed.
Obviously, as is the case with all five starters, his strength lies more in pass protection than in run-blocking. And truth be told, Pouncey has never been a people-mover type of center who is going to plow over a one-tech in short-yardage situations. But they never drafted him to be that guy, either.
And he still does have mobility, even if it wasn’t what it once was several years and surgeries ago. I’m not about to absolve Pouncey of all of his flaws—he is almost surely one of the most erratic snappers of all starting centers—but he also deserves more credit than the fan base seems willing to give him lately.
With that said, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise either way if he calls it a career after 11 seasons, now the second-longest-tenured player on the team behind Ben Roethlisberger. Tyson Alualu and Joe Haden, also from the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, are the only other players on the team who have been in the NFL as long.
If Pouncey does return—there has been a report that Roethlisberger has been trying to convince him to play for one more year—he is slated to earn $8 million in base salary. I don’t think that the team would ask him to do a pay cut, but they could add voidable years to his contract to slightly reduce his cap hit and spread it out, as they’ve done in the past with Heath Miller, Troy Polamalu, and Hines Ward.