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: James Washington
Experience: 4 Years
While James Washington came out of college regarded as a deep ball threat, he was never known as a speedster, instead making use of other traits to win down the field. You will probably never see him run faster than he does this offseason as he gets out of Pittsburgh.
While he would never publicly comment on it, there were what I feel were credible reports during the offseason and then near the trade deadline indicating that Washington wanted to be traded, and wasn’t happy with his role.
It would be nothing short of surprising if he were happy with his role, of course, as even after the Steelers lost JuJu Smith-Schuster in the fifth game of the season, his opportunities for playing time did not significantly increase unless there were additional injuries factoring in.
Washington played all of 480 snaps in a season in which Smith-Schuster only played 222, with Ray-Ray McCloud playing 538 snaps, significantly more than he had played in his first three season combined. Washington would never come out and say something about that, but, I mean, come on.
When all was said and done, he caught 24 passes on 44 targets for 285 yards with two touchdowns. He also had two carries for 13 yards, the first carries of his career. He made two great catches in the postseason game for 37 yards, which included the final touchdown pass of Ben Roethlisberger’s career, and surely what will prove to be his final reception in Pittsburgh, as well.
He’s not even going to be looking for money—not that he will be in a position to do so. I suspect he just wants to go to a team that actually intends to use him regularly, not inconsistently and seemingly behind less accomplished players. If he did indeed have a grievance with how he was used, I think it was justified.