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: Isaiah Buggs
Experience: 3 Years
A sixth-round draft pick out of Alabama in 2019, Isaiah Buggs had some buzz around him at various times over the course of the past three seasons. The potential seen in him, however, never quite panned out—which is a key factor in why he is instead currently a member of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Buggs entered the 2021 season seen firmly on the roster bubble, with early projections of the defensive line depth chart consisting of Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Stephon Tuitt, Chris Wormley, Carlos Davis, and rookie Isaiahh Loudermilk. Injuries helped, but his performance during the offseason and the preseason prevented him from being the odd man out.
He entered the regular season as the top backup defensive tackle behind Alualu, who suffered a season-ending ankle fracture in Week 2. For the rest of the first half of the year, Buggs replaced him as their primary defensive tackle, including at nose tackle in their 3-4 alignment.
Toward midseason, however, he was benched, outright, and the Steelers added Montravius Adams. They were even playing Heyward and Henry Mondeaux at nose tackle at various points of the season (while Davis was also unavailable).
He ultimately played 227 snaps in 10 games with six starts, but found himself waived late in the season in a flurry of roster moves designed to maximize the 53-man roster relative to position needs based on injury. That was on January 8, and he signed with the Raiders on their practice squad on January 17.