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: Pat Freiermuth
Experience: 2 Years
While he was not able to replicate his scoring production from his rookie season—as much on the state of the passing game as a whole as to anything else—second-year tight end Pat Freiermuth took some key steps forward as a receiving target.
Where he didn’t really move the needle was in his blocking. He remains pretty much the same player he was as a rookie in that regard, capable of being physical on the perimeter and on the move, but often overmatched as an in-line blocker. But this is an area that can take time for tight ends to develop, as we saw with Zach Gentry, Jesse James, and Matt Spaeth.
Freiermuth is who he is and where he is because of his ability to be an effective possession receiver with the occasional splash play, particularly when it comes to third downs. That’s an area in which he did very well last season, and he did make a sizeable jump forward in yardage.
With nearly the same reception numbers from year one to year two, he improved his yardage total by nearly 50 percent, jumping up from 497 to 732. That merely brought his yards per catch to a respectable level of 11.6, however, from an embarrassing 8.3 as a rookie.
He did put a couple more balls on the ground this past season, but he’s clearly fast developing a rapport with young quarterback Kenny Pickett, and they’re going to be best friends, I think, if the Steelers can keep them together.
What will be interesting to see this offseason is how the team tackles the slot position. Freiermuth assumed a lot of that responsibility after they traded Chase Claypool. He’ll be asked to work inside, either way, but in what roles and in what contexts will be determined by their moves at wide receiver.