2021 Exit Meetings – ILB Buddy Johnson

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: Buddy Johnson

Position: ILB

Experience: 1 Year

The Steelers drafted nine players last season. Eight made the 53-man roster. Five started, and two others played significant roles. The other one was Buddy Johnson, the fourth-round inside linebacker out of Texas A&M, who had his body betray him just at the moment that he might have gotten a chance to play.

The rookie ultimately dressed for only four games last season, seeing a total of six defensive snaps and 59 special teams snaps. The fact that fellow linebackers Robert Spillane, Ulysees Gilbert III, and Marcus Allen were all core special-teamers didn’t help him consistently dress at a position where the team uncharacteristically carried six players, when they don’t even consistently carry five.

Early-season availability issues (Spillane was a surprise Week 1 inactive, and Devin Bush was injured Week 2) allowed Johnson to dress at the start of the season, but he was inactive, a healthy scratch, for eight straight games before dressing for Week 13, making one special teams tackle.

A week later, the Steelers started giving him a small handful of defensive snaps, playing six, three with Bush and three with Joe Schobert (Spillane was injured at this time). Head coach Mike Tomlin addressed his playing time after the game and acknowledged there was an opportunity there for him.

And then he never played again. He developed a foot injury that kept him sidelined from that point forward. They finally put him on the Reserve/Injured List on January 7, prior to the season finale. But he’ll come into training camp in 2022 with another opportunity to push forward, arguably with a path toward playing time, at least if Bush struggles, which, from what I understand, isn’t unheard of.

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