2022 Exit Meetings – CB Ahkello Witherspoon

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: CB Ahkello Witherspoon

Position: CB

Experience: 6 Years

Ahkello Witherspoon has enjoyed—if that is an appropriate word—something of a yo-yo career up to this point. A six-year veteran, the former third-round pick has suffered multiple demotions and benching over the course of his career.

The Steelers likely saw the best of him when he finally began to get regular playing time in the second half of the 2021 season. They acquired him via trade for depth shortly before the start of the regular season, and his performance inspired them to re-sign him to a two-year, $8 million contract.

He entered the 2022 season as the starter, ostensibly challenged by Levi Wallace, also signed as an outside free agent to the same terms, but his status as starter wouldn’t last long. Although he was injured in week three and missed the next four games, he was on the verge of a benching anyway.

Witherspoon returned to the field in the game before the bye, playing only about a half before he was benched. He was burned several times in coverage, giving up multiple long touchdowns to wide receiver A.J. Brown.

He claimed after the game that he did not aggravate his injury, but he did hurt himself again, evidently in practice the following week, and he would not play another snap. He was inactive for the first three games after the bye, but was then placed on the Reserve/Injured List.

The Steelers did open his practice window by the end of the season, and it’s possible he would have been available to play had they made the postseason. Since they did not, we will never know for sure. Given his poor season, however, he could still be a salary cap casualty with his $4 million base salary due in 2023. Especially if the team lands a top cornerback in the draft.

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