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: Kalen Ballage
Experience: 4 Years
We just talked about Kalen Ballage on the site yesterday in our free agency preview, and there wasn’t a lot to talk about then, so there won’t be a lot to talk about now. A veteran journeyman that the Steelers picked up on a minimum-salary contract with no signing bonus, he did make the team, and lasted all year, but contributed little.
Of course, much of that had to do with the fact that the team had just drafted running back Najee Harris in the first round, and one thing Mike Tomlin has proven over his head coaching tenure is that he continues to believe in the bellcow back. As a rookie, nobody at the position played more snaps or touched the ball more.
That left little in the way of work for the rest of the running back room, but it is also true that they didn’t earn a shared workload, including Ballage. Benny Snell, the third-year veteran, was the team’s number two back, and even he did not play very much.
Ballage ultimately saw just 65 snaps on offense over the course of the season, even though he dressed for all 17 games, recording 12 rushing attempts for 36 yards. That included two rushes for 10-plus yards, and three rushing attempts of negative yardage.
He also managed to drop two passes on seven targets. He was at least decent in pass protection, however, to his credit, but ultimately, he did not offer up enough in his limited opportunities to suggest that he is somebody the Steelers should feel the need to continue doing business with. It’s probably a good reminder that a veteran back can look good in training camp and the preseason against third-stringers.