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: Antoine Brooks
Experience: 1 Year
A Maryland product, Antoine Brooks was drafted in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Described by general manager Kevin Colbert as half a linebacker, half a safety, they envisioned him developing into a dimebacker or moneybacker role, a ‘tweener’ position somewhere between a true safety and a linebacker.
This is a role in which they have developed a keen interest in recent years, and one they haven’t had the appropriate piece for. Marcus Allen, who was similarly described once by Mike Tomlin, played some in that capacity last season after being nominally moved to linebacker, and even starting a couple of games there due to injury.
Brooks spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad, but he was elevated for a couple of games, and actually played a couple dozen snaps on defense. He was ultimately signed to the 53-man roster, and dressed for four games, registering two tackles in total.
He is not going to be guaranteed a roster spot, but with Sean Davis and Jordan Dangerfield still unsigned, he does probably fall within the top four of the position, even with the recent signing of Miles Killebrew—yet another ‘tweener’ player—behind starters Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds.
This will be an important offseason of growth for Brooks, in whom the Steelers really valued his football intelligence coming out of college. But the one he’ll really have to impress is special teams coordinator Danny Smith, as the key to him locking down a roster spot is convincing them that they need to be playing him 200-plus snaps as a four-phase coverage and return-unit guy.