2020 Player Exit Meetings – FB Derek Watt

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: Derek Watt

Position: FB

Experience: 5 Years

I’m going to be honest here. I’m only covering Derek Watt at this moment in the cycle of exit meetings rather than later on simply because I’m afraid that I’m going to forget to loop back around him, because there is no reasonable sense in which he was a starter on offense in 2020, even if he is technically listed as such.

Signed as one of their priority free agents to a three-year contract work $9.75 million, making him the second-highest-paid fullback in the league, Watt’s most notable achievement during the previous season was being the older brother of T.J. Watt.

Following a career of notable durability, he missed four games in 2020 and extended time in others, ultimately limited to just 210 snaps on special teams, which frankly is more than I thought before I looked, though he was expected to play more than 300 snaps. He finished the season with eight tackles, four of which occurred in the first two games.

Even more stark, Watt played just 52 snaps on offense, by far the lowest total of his career in his first season in Pittsburgh. He was not even targeted once during the regular season, nor did he get a single carry. But he carried the ball twice on third and short in the postseason, recording a first down on the first carry, getting stuffed on the second.

Given the Steelers’ salary cap situation, there is a more than reasonable chance that he is going to end up released, even though the team won’t actually save all that much. He is due a base salary of $1.75 million, with a $1 million roster bonus, but he has a prorated amortized signing bonus of more than $1 million for 2022 that would be accelerated into 2021. After roster displacement, they would save less than $1 million this year by letting him go, though they would also shave off $2.75 million from the 2022 cap number.

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