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: Wendell Smallwood
Experience: 4 Years
For the first time in NFL history, players with any level of experience were permitted to be retained on the practice squad. That allowed, for example, the Steelers to carry veteran running back Wendell Smallwood, a fifth-year player with 53 career games under his belt, on their practice squad throughout the 2020 season.
Given that the team already had four running backs on the roster—and for a time, even had five when Trey Edmunds was called up from the practice squad and before he was placed on the Reserve/Injured List—the Steelers never really needed his services.
He did, however, get called up once. He was activated for the week 12 game against the Baltimore Ravens, and served as a Reserve/Covid-19 replacement for that game with, among other players, running back James Conner out of action that week with Covid-19.
He did not play on offense, though he did see two snaps on special teams. And that is the entirety of his playing history with the Steelers. He would not be activated for any other game. He would not be retained after the season. He currently remains a free agent.
When first brought in, there was some thought that he could come in and make the 53-man roster and serve as a reasonable complementary back, taking the place of Jaylen Samuels. That never happened, of course. In 2021, it’s quite possible that neither of them are on the Steelers’ roster—or possibly anybody else’s as well.