Matt Feiler was seen as a mid-tier free agent that the Pittsburgh Steelers might possibly be in play to keep around. A three-year starter with two years at right tackle and one at left guard, his departure left yet another whole in the team’s starting lineup, but he got a comfortable three-year, $21 million contract from the Los Angeles Chargers.
During his introductory press conference, Feiler had good things to say about his time in Pittsburgh, and indicated that the Steelers were still in play at the start of free agency, though he and his agent understood that salary cap limitations made it very unlikely they could reach an agreement.
“It’s just the atmosphere that they created where it was just an open locker room”, he said about what made the environment in Pittsburgh special. “If you had an issue with something, you could go to the coach, or whoever, really, and just talk to them about your issues and your concerns. From what I’ve got the sense here so far, it’s very similar, and it makes it a lot easier on the coaches as well as the players to have that open communication”.
Spending almost all of his professional career working on protecting Ben Roethlisberger, there will certainly be an adjustment period as he begins the next leg of his journey as one of the pass protectors for the exciting young Justin Herbert. But he feels there is some carryover he can bring along with him.
“The play can never be dead. Us upfront, we’ve got to get the clocks out of our heads and just block until the end of the play when the whistle blows”, he said of his lessons learned from blocking for Big Ben. “It’s just one of those things where you never know where the quarterback could line up and set up the pass. We’ve just got to make sure that we’re blocking until the end of the whistle”.
Feiler does have the advantage of not being entirely among strangers. After the Steelers let go of Shaun Sarrett as their offensive line coach, the Chargers hired him as their assistant line coach—while Pittsburgh hired the Chargers’ offensive line coach to be theirs.
“He carried a lot over from learning from” Mike Munchak, Feiler said of Sarrett. “Just having the familiar face here in LA will help my transition run a little smoother and just have someone to talk to and lean on with any questions that I might have”.
The Steelers do appear set to move on at left guard with 2020 fourth-round pick Kevin Dotson as their starter. Had he not developed quickly, it’s certainly possible that the team would have made a much bigger push to keep Feiler—though it still may not have been enough.