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: Stephon Tuitt
Experience: 8 Years
Stephon Tuitt had quite a significant impact on the Steelers’ 2021 season through his absence. The eight-year veteran borderline Pro Bowler did not play a single snap this past year, and the defense suffered significantly for it.
Truly one of the most talented players in the NFL right now to have never been named to a Pro Bowl, Tuitt was coming off of his best and most complete season of his career in 2020 when life threw him a major curve ball.
As you are now well aware, his younger brother was tragically struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, with devastating effects on his family. He was said to have been devoting a lot of time, as one would imagine, to the well-being of his mother.
And let me tell you, I can confirm second-hand that losing a child at a young age is irreversibly life-altering for a parent. And you will have idiots tell you just months after it happened that it’s time to ‘get over it’.
Tuitt was allowed a wide berth throughout the offseason process by the team, permitted to skip mandatory minicamp. While he reported to training camp, he worked exclusively off to the side, on his own, often with T.J. Watt, who was a non-participant in team drills due to ongoing contract talks.
At some point, seemingly late in training camp, Tuitt suffered a knee injury that required him to have a relatively minor operation in early September, resulting in him beginning the season on the Reserve/Injured List with the hope of his returning.
Tuitt told Stan Savran not long after that—who saw him supporting himself on a crutch at that time—that he was hopeful that he would be able to return in several weeks. That never came to fruition, and we never gained full clarity as to exactly why, even though he seemingly very briefly returned to the field in early October, donning a knee brace and actually looking to be in solid shape.
Since then, we had only Mike Tomlin’s brief non-updates on a weekly basis about his status. After the season, we heard many comments that struck a chord of uncertainty about his future, seemingly implying that he was considering retirement.
More recently, general manager Kevin Colbert said that Tuitt “absolutely” wants to continue to play football, that he wanted to play last year, and that they are excited to see what the next steps are as they hope to get him back. Teammate and very close friend Cameron Heyward also recently made some remarks that seemed to imply that he expects Tuitt to be a part of the team in 2022.
And that’s where we’re at, as of now, and how we got there, to the best of my recollection.