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: Steven Nelson
Experience: 6 Years
Steven Nelson had a very solid, strong first season in Pittsburgh in 2019 when the Steelers signed him to a three-year, $25.5 million contract to be the bookend starter at cornerback opposite Joe Haden. Perhaps slightly less consistent, the 2020 season was pretty much more of the same.
One difference from last season is the fact that he was targeted more frequently in 2020, actually around a third more than he was the year before. He also gave up a higher catch percentage, but still very much within the range of respectability. The real problem is the fact that he was beaten for numerous touchdowns, after not allowing any in 2019.
Those sorts of things come and go, though. Giving up zero touchdowns in a season takes good luck. Giving up seven takes some bad luck as well, at least for a solid starter, which Nelson certainly is, and he did get his hands on a few more balls during the year as well.
The 2021 season is the final year on his contract, which comes with a cap hit north of $14 million, and a base salary of $8.25 million. Depending upon what sort of deal he’s looking for, the Steelers could perhaps lower his cap hit a bit on a two-year extension (or even a longer extension, since he’s still fairly young).
The depth behind him is the problem. With both Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton set to hit the open market, the only cornerbacks behind them are Justin Layne and James Pierre, the latter a 2020 undrafted rookie, the former a 2019 third-round pick who still has a lot to prove.