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: Calvin Austin III
Experience: 1 Year
A fourth-round draft pick out of Memphis, Calvin Austin III promised something different in the Steelers’ wide receiver room. Short but with great speed and quickness, he is somebody they envisioned could play inside or outside and be a dynamic threat both vertically and horizontally.
None of us got to see much of that at all in 2022 unless you happened to be in training camp. He suffered a foot injury during practice on the day before the team’s first preseason game. It wasn’t clear then how serious it was.
He didn’t practice again for the rest of the offseason, beginning the regular season on the Reserve/Injured List. The Steelers did designate him for return toward the middle of the season, but he aggravated the foot injury and ended up having surgery.
He continues to recover from that, but has begun posting his progress to his social media accounts and appears to be well on his way to a full recovery. Teammates, coaches, and members of the front office have continued to express optimism about what he can offer to the team in the future.
There is a distinct possibility that he will open the 2023 season as the team’s third receiver behind Diontae Johnson and George Pickens. In such circumstances, they would likely ask him to focus on the slot as his top priority since the others are primarily outside options.
While they may be confident in his physical recovery, however, he still has to prove himself as an NFL talent. Remember, this is somebody who hasn’t even stepped onto the field in a preseason game yet. Plenty of players with great physical traits haven’t cut it. It’s far too early to say what Austin will be, for good or bad.