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: James Washington
Experience: 3 Years
James Washington took a clear and obvious setback this year with the drafting of Chase Claypool, who was able to make short work of the task of climbing up the depth chart ahead of him. Because of some injuries early on in the season, he was still finding playing time of anywhere between 30 and 50 snaps per game, but then it dropped off a cliff.
Around the Tennessee and Baltimore games, the wide receivers got healthy, and the Steelers also increasingly turned to a four-receiver set featuring Ray-Ray McCloud as a shiftier interior wide receiver playing over him. His playing time trickled down to as low as just 10 snaps.
He had a cheerleader for him in Ben Roethlisberger, however, and he mentioned Washington specifically a number of times unprompted, even one time noting that he was calling for the third-year receiver to be put in the game.
His opportunities became more limited, but he was also making them count, making some significant catches when given the opportunity. Against Washington, he went for 80 yards with a long touchdown mixed in, and then scored again a week later. He also caught five passes for 72 yards in the playoff loss.
The best thing that could happen to him this offseason would be for JuJu Smith-Schuster to sign elsewhere in free agency, which would presumably put him back in the starting rotation with Diontae Johnson and Claypool. They’ll still probably draft yet another receiver, but it won’t be in the second or third rounds—probably. Washington himself, of course, is entering the final year of his rookie contract.