The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted before they even reached the postseason, which unfortunately marks the sixth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—tying their longest drought of the Super Bowl era. 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 9-8 and nearly making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Haden to most of their wide receiver room, not to mention Stephon Tuitt’s decision to retire.
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 2022 season.
Player: Derek Watt
Experience: 7 Years
Partly because I have a tendency to forget about him if I don’t include him early, partly because there really wasn’t a third wide receiver that merited consideration to be covered with the starters this year, we’re talking about Derek Watt, the fullback, in the first wave of exit meetings.
And curiously enough, he saw an increased role on offense in spite of the fact that he played fewer snaps than last season. Although he only got 77 snaps all year outside of special teams, he saw a career-high 14 touches and even scored twice, including his first receiving touchdown—even if it was thrown by the person who would be covered here if he were not traded, Chase Claypool.
In all, he finished the season with 21 yards on nine carries, almost all of which came on 3rd and 1. He got the first down eight times. He also caught all five of his targets in the passing game for all of 11 yards, admittedly not overly impressive, only two of the five being successful plays for the offense. Nearly all of them, short of his touchdown, came on first down, typically in the Steelers’ own end but also one at the goal line.
This is a lot of chatter for a handful of touches, however, when Watt has been paid all these years for what he brings on special teams. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of his better seasons in that regard as a whole, though he did make several key plays throughout the year. He also missed more tackles than he usually does, but missed tackles on kickoffs are a bit of a different breed.
Having completed a three-year contract totaling nearly $10 million, he is now due to be a free agent, but as I’ve previously laid out, there’s an incentive for him to stick around on the cheap, as it would lay the groundwork for an arrangement that works out for both the player and the team beginning in 2024.