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: Joe Haden
Experience: 1000 Years (actually 11)
Joe Haden has certainly been around the block a time or two, and the last four of those trips have come with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who first signed him in August of 2017 after being dumped by the Cleveland Browns shortly before the regular season was to begin.
Since then, he has become an integral part in the transformation of the Steelers’ secondary, going from among the least to the most talent defensive backfields in the NFL. Though Haden is no longer in his physical prime, a fact he will be the first to admit, he continues to play at a high level at the start of his second decade in the game.
Originally a first-round pick, he has certainly had a first-rounder’s career. Approaching 600 career tackles, he is one interception shy of 30 for his career, and nobody gets their hands on the ball more frequently. He has a dozen or more passes defensed in each of the past three seasons, and 149 for his career, nearing the top 10 of all time in NFL history.
Though he missed a couple of games this past season—he contracted Covid-19 at the end of the season, which caused him to miss the finale as well as their playoff loss, and he missed an earlier game due to injury—he still finished with 52 tackles, remains one of the most willing of boundary corners in the game, along with two interceptions, including, his second career touchdown (first since 2013), and 12 passes defensed.
Under contract for one more season at a $7 million base salary (and a cap hit of nearly $16 million due to his plentiful original signing bonus), the Steelers could look to give him another extension this offseason as he heads into the year at age 32.