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: Kevin Rader
Experience: 2 Years
Kevin Rader, now 27 years old, is becoming an old head at this point. He has been with the Steelers organization at some level since 2019, on and off, originally signing a Reserve/Future contract in January of that year. He spent nearly the entire year on the practice squad, bumped only occasionally for necessary positional numbers adjustments.
While he has also started each of the past two seasons on the practice squad, he has finished both years as a member of the 53-man roster, albeit due to injury. In the case of the 2021 season, that was a result of Eric Ebron’s mid-season knee injury, promoted on November 23.
The Pittsburgh native and Pine-Richland graduate spent the remainder of the season on the active roster, dressing for six games and logging a total of 36 snaps on offense. He also played 37 snaps on special teams, a role that he showed in 2020 he could handle. He registered three tackles in the process, also having had three in 2020.
While he would primarily be expected to be a blocker on offense, naturally, Rader was targeted three times during the season, catching two passes for eight yards. That unfortunately included a one-yard catch on 3rd-and-2 against the Chicago Bears, which marked the first official touch of his NFL career.
With Ebron almost surely not going to be re-signed this offseason, of course Rader enters the offseason process seeming to stand a fair chance of being the prime candidate to make the 53-man roster as the number three tight end.
Pat Freiermuth, their second-round pick from a year ago, is now the head of the position, but they also saw much-anticipated growth from Zach Gentry last year, who can also take an expansion role in the receiving department. Rader stands a fair chance of dressing for his special teams alone, which also gives him a leg up in any potential competition for the TE3 job.