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: Eric Ebron
Experience: 8 Years
While the 2021 season saw Eric Ebron log his least amount of playing time in his career, it’s actually not the season in which he played his lowest percentage of snaps in games played. He still managed to play 45 percent of the Steelers’ snaps in his eight games last year. In 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts, however, he only played 42 percent of the snaps in the 11 games in which he played.
Those are the only two seasons of his career in which he was ever below 50 percent. Yet he played 74 percent of the snaps for Pittsburgh in 2020, reflecting his status as the unambigiously clear number one tight end.
That was not the case this past season, following the selection of Pat Freiermuth in the second round of the draft. Ebron still logged about as many snaps as the other tight ends did, but he found himself sharing the role more than he ever had—except for that one year, playing with Jack Doyle.
Yet he never had a season in which he was targeted fewer than 50 times. He only received 18 targets in 2021, which wouldn’t work out to 50 even if you extrapolated his eight games played over 17 games.
He simply wasn’t being targeted nearly as often, with many of the targets he previously received being diverted to Freiermuth, who caught 60 passes as a rookie, which would be the third-most in any season of Ebron’s career.
He missed more than half of the season, though, after suffering a knee injury. He is due to be an unrestricted free agent next month, and has recently declared himself healthy. It will be interesting to see what kind of market he has at this point, if any. He is still (soon) only 29 years old.