2022 Exit Meetings – G James Daniels

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: James Daniels

Position: G

Experience: 5 Years

Arguably one of the Steelers’ top players, full-stop, James Daniels had an interesting path this offseason. His initial signing was lauded as an unexpected surprise from an organization that rarely makes anything close to that kind of ‘splash’ in free agency, but it wasn’t until a fair bit of the way into the regular season that his play began to match the anticipation.

A former second-round pick who played out his rookie contract with the Chicago Bears, Daniels was to come over as an up-and-coming plug-and-play starter, the true successor to David DeCastro at guard with Trai Turner serving as a brief interlude in 2021.

Perhaps he will indeed prove to be that, or at least as close as we can reasonably hope, but it took a while. The early reports about his progress in the offseason seemed cautious yet pessimistic. Then we saw him play in the preseason, and it was rough at times.

He needed a period of adjustment, not just in working with a new set of linemen in a new city in a new offense, but also in adjusting to a new style of coaching offensive line techniques from Pat Meyer, in his first year in Pittsburgh.

The entire group needed to adjust, and that process combined with the newness of the starting five working together meant lots and lots of growing pains early on. But Daniels in particular grew in confidence and performance as the season wore on and we began to see the player they expected to have signed emerge.

He should be set to hit the ground running in 2023. I don’t know that he can be a Pro Bowl type of player, but perhaps he can at least make it an interesting discussion. And they should be able to do a lot more with him, and the other linemen, in year two of this offense next season.

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