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: Cameron Heyward
Experience: 12 Years
Finally turning our attention to the defensive starters, we begin in the obvious spot with Cameron Heyward, who for the first time in half a decade was snubbed from the post-season award. He should have been an All-Pro. He only wound up in the Pro Bowl Games as an alternate throwing and catching water balloons because the Chiefs made the Super Bowl.
And yet he had one of the best seasons of his career, and not just statistically, even though the numbers speak for themselves. 10.5 sacks, 22 hits, 74 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, four batted passes, a forced fumble. All of these numbers align not only with his best years—years in which he was an All-Pro—but with what the best at his position were doing in 2022.
I will say that Heyward’s season was subject to a bit more ebb and flow than usual, with some more average or pedestrian games mixed in. Perhaps that played some small part in his lack of due recognition this year. Some of them were evening or night games as well.
But he finished the season strong, including 5.5 sacks in his final four games, along with six tackles for loss. The only thing that was really missing was a higher number of batted passes, as four is a low number for him, and most of them came later on in the year.
Soon to turn 34 years old before the start of the 2023 season, Heyward is obviously closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but if he can continue to play at the level that he has been, there’s really no reason to start talking about retirement. At least not forced retirement due to quality of play. Because it simply hasn’t been an issue yet. James Harrison was playing while pushing 40, after all.