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 the fifth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—a new record for the franchise since the merger. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-7-1 and making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from the majority of the offensive line to Mike Hilton, Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Vince Williams—not to mention Stephon Tuitt, essentially.
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 2021 season.
Player: Anthony McFarland
Experience: 2 Years
In the two years that have followed since the Steelers drafted Anthony McFarland in the fourth round out of Maryland, the running back has produced a total of 181 yards from scrimmage in 13 games. You could put all the caveats in the world into that equation and it still doesn’t sound good.
Likely part of the reason that the team drafted him in the first place was due to his familiarity with Matt Canada, at the time their quarterbacks coach but likely already being viewed as a potential future offensive coordinator. To have such a coach on your side and still not be able to get on the field is not great.
Now, the 2020 season, you can understand. He was a rookie, and he was drafted during a pandemic year, which robbed players of a proper offseason, and the preseason entirely. He was an underclassman as well, with only two years of playing experience. He didn’t look ready.
Even last season, he did start the year on the Reserve/Injured List. But they were in no hurry to rush him back, and he spent months of the season as a healthy scratch. He played in just two games and recorded a whopping four touches in the process. He had three carries for all of three yards, and one reception that he took for 11.
McFarland did get a bit of work in the return game, returning three kicks for 73 yards, a solid 24.3-yard average. But I don’t see how he has a better chance of being a returner in 2022 than does Ray-Ray McCloud, who is the first kick returner they’ve had in that role for consecutive seasons in a very long time.
Put simply, McFarland is going to have to earn his roster spot in 2022. They’re not going to carry him based on potential for a third season. Not that they have a robust backfield behind Najee Harris, but at this point, they can sign guys off the street they’d be more likely to actually play.