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 Pierre
Experience: 1 Year
Undrafted out of Florida Atlantic, second-year cornerback James Pierre has suddenly been the subject of a great deal more attention than he has received since entering the NFL. This comes in the wake of the Steelers announcing that they have released starting cornerback Steven Nelson.
Coupled with the free agency departure of Mike Hilton, that leaves just Joe Haden from the top three a year ago, with Cameron Sutton, the number four, moving into the starting lineup. Pierre and 2019 third-round pick Justin Layne are the only other cornerbacks returning from last season’s roster.
And Pierre logged more playing time than Layne did in the final two games of the 2020 season, including the postseason, though whether or not that could be truly, or at least fully, attributed to his surpassing Layne on the depth chart is not something we can confirm.
That he ended his rookie year on a high note, getting playing time in a postseason game and even putting in some good snaps—he had a nice breakup on a deep ball in that game—can only work in his favor, of course.
Between now and the start of the regular season, the Steelers will inevitably add at least one or two more cornerbacks of note, either through the draft or free agency, or possibly even trade. Chances are, they will all compete for roles.
But I doubt anybody thought after Pierre was signed last year that he would even make the 53-man roster, let alone be in a position a year later where he could be competing for playing time as the nickel defender.
And whether or not he wins a defensive role probably won’t matter. He originally made the roster to play on special teams. He logged more than 200 snaps there last season, registering the majority of his 10 tackles on the year that way.