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: Mason Cole
Experience: 5 Years
Come to think of it, Mason Cole may be one of the Steelers I’m most interested in seeing next season. He played well, overall, during his first season with the team in 2022, but he also played hurt. I want to see what he can look like, fully healthy, in an offensive line that is growing and coming together.
A former 2018 third-round draft pick, Cole is a player who struggled to find a consistent starting job over the course of his career. His first team signed an established Pro Bowler to take his place, and then he was traded to a team with a young first-round pick at the center position. He ultimately played some at guard, where he is less comfortable.
The 2022 season marked the first time since his rookie year that he started every game, but one wonders how close he was to missing one or two with the injuries that he dealt with throughout the season. As it is, he missed nearly 50 snaps in-game, having had to exit three times, most notably in the second game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
While the Steelers will be looking for upgrades along the offensive line this offseason, they won’t be able to do it at every position, and center shouldn’t be their top priority with Cole. He’s proven to add value with his veteran presence, his understated leadership, his on-field football intelligence, as well as his toughness.
Maybe they won’t be running a lot of pulls from the center position, although that’s not really as much Pat Meyer’s method as it was Mike Munchak, but Cole can be the starter on a quality offensive line. That’s the main thing to take away, I think, from year one in Pittsburgh.