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: Zach Banner
Experience: 4 Years
Considering the fact that he suffered a torn ACL in the season opener, it’s fair to say that Zach Banner must have been able to come a long way, both physically and mentally, for him to say back in January that he had the “best exit meeting ever”.
After Ramon Foster retired, the Steelers decided that they had enough depth at tackle to turn the position over by moving Matt Feiler into guard at Foster’s old position. That left Banner competing with Chukwuma Okorafor for the starting job.
Banner ultimately won that competition after graduating to the swing tackle position the year before, and he started the season opener against the New York Giants. While he acquitted himself well enough throughout the game, he went down at the end of the penultimate drive of the game with a knee injury that was later verified as a torn ACL.
Heading into the year, he was a restricted free agent, and he accepted a one-year contract worth less than the restricted tender amount, almost surely having been told that he would be competing for a starting job.
Undoubtedly, he was expecting bigger and better things for himself heading into his contract year, but fate would have other ideas. He missed the final 16 games of the season, now entering free agency with a one-game starter who has a busted knee.
While nothing is official yet, Banner is seemingly strongly implied that he anticipates re-signing with the Steelers and betting on himself again, competing for a starting job once again, a competition he expects to win, and through which earn himself stable and gainful employment. Here’s to him achieving that goal in 2021.