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: Chukwuma Okorafor
Experience: 4 Years
A convincing argument could be made that Chukwuma Okorafor was the Steelers’ best offensive lineman during the 2021 season. A convincing argument could also be made that it’s damning with faint praise, since…well, you watched this year, didn’t you?
Still, given the team’s predicament in the trenches, one has to wonder whether or not they ought to re-sign Okorafor provided that he can be had for an affordable price. While it appears that Dan Moore Jr. may have potential on the left side, they would be left with either Zach Banner or Joe Haeg as their right tackle barring potential additions.
And they would be paying Banner $5 million this season. If you could choose Banner or Okorafor for $5 million in 2022, which would you take? Framed that way, given how the past two years have gone for both players, I gather Okorafor would be most people’s preference. It’s hard to pick somebody who has one start.
He is now their most experienced lineman, as well, if you don’t include the free agent addition, Trai Turner. You don’t retain somebody just because they have started a number of games for you, but there is something to be said for continuity.
Whether or not the Steelers are interested in keeping Okorafor will depend on a lot of factors, including what they decide to do with the offensive line coach role. Will they just promote Chris Morgan? What if they land Mike Munchak? He was their coach when Okorafor was drafted. He would also seem to be a decent enough fit for Matt Canada’s offense.
Bottom line, don’t be shocked if he’s back in 2022. Then again, do you remember the contract that Chris Hubbard got when he hit free agency? It only takes one team.