2021 Exit Meetings – ILB Ulysees Gilbert III

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: Ulysees Gilbert III

Position: ILB

Experience: 3 Years

The good news for Ulysees Gilbert III is that, for the first time in his career, he started and ended a season. Yes, that’s the full sentence. The former sixth-round linebacker out of Akron served three stints on the Reserve/Injured List during his first two seasons in the NFL, but he managed to play in every game in 2021.

And he established himself as a core special teams player, logging 337 snaps in that department over the course of the year, a four-phase contributor who logged extensive snaps in both kick and punt coverage as well as kick and punt return units. He recorded 14 special teams tackles, tied for the sixth-most in the NFL. Pro Football Focus does have him graded very highly, as well.

Once an early fan favorite after an encouraging defensive display during his rookie preseason, however, Gilbert has not been much of a factor at the position he was drafted to play. The injuries have not helped, of course, but many thought he wouldn’t even make the 53-man roster this past season.

He did, and he earned his place on special teams, but he did get some defensive snaps late in the season, including 27 in Week 17 against the Cleveland Browns.

That was the game in which both Devin Bush and Joe Schobert were unavailable, with Robert Spillane and Marcus Allen starting. Gilbert got a good chunk of Allen’s snaps, however, registering two defensive tackles and two special teams tackles.

Entering the final year of his rookie contract, I imagine he will once again have to earn his roster spot, with Bush, Spillane, Allen, and Buddy Johnson all back, with newcomer Myles Jack a lock to start. But his ability to contribute on special teams will make him a tough cut.

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