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: Ulysees Gilbert III
Experience: 2 Years
The 2020 season was not great, at all, for Ulysees Gilbert III, the slender second-year inside linebacker out of Akron who originally came to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019 via the sixth round. While he impressed with his play in the preseason as a rookie, he found himself a healthy scratch for much of year two—in spite of an expanded active list.
Prior to the season, teams were only permitted to dress 46 players out of the 53-man roster. In the new CBA, the active list expanded to 47 players, with a 48th permitted if it was for an offensive lineman and at least seven other linemen were also active.
But he didn’t dress. Marcus Allen, who had just converted to safety, dressed over him, as did Robert Spillane, who emerged as the top backup. This in spite of there being significant fan expectations for the speedy linebacker.
It wasn’t until Devin Bush’s injury that he started to dress and get playing time, rotating in passing situations with Spillane, but soon after that, he would experience a recurrence of a back injury that landed him on injured reserve in the middle of his rookie season.
That would put him on the shelf for a while before returning for two games, only to go back on reserve, for the same reason. Three stints on the reserve list for a recurring back issue has those who have been following him concerned about his future in the league, for reasons I imagine are obvious.
You can count me among those who remain intrigued about Gilbert and what he can offer. Though a late-round pick, he has rare speed and athleticism for a linebacker. Preseason showings are far from the end-all, be-all, but the reality is it’s about all we have to go on so far.