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: Gunner Olszewski
Experience: 4 Years
Things could have gone better for Gunner Olszewski in his first season as a Steeler. There’s really no other way to put it when you get benched four games in. Signed to a modest two-year contract for the primary purpose of taking over return duties from Ray-Ray McCloud, he wound up inactive by week five.
While he was officially charged with two fumbles, that doesn’t account for the full breadth of the ball security issues he had. He failed at times to square himself under a punt, which resulted in some shaky fielding work that increased the risk for fumbling.
A former All-Pro returner while with the New England Patriots, it’s worth noting that they elected not to offer him a restricted free agent tender offer and allowed him to sign with the Steelers. The reasons for that resemble what we saw here—primarily, ball security. He fumbled three times in 2021.
Still, it must be acknowledged that the Steelers only sat him down for one game, and he was willing and able to take on other tasks on special teams, including playing on coverage units. His activities offensively remained limited.
He did see a career-high 216 offensive snaps, actually, though he still finished with five receptions on seven targets for 53 yards. He also had eight rushing attempts for 39 yards, with a long of 18. His 13 total touches were a career high.
Olszewski is owed a $2 million base salary for the 2023 season, so suffice it to say that his roster spot will not be guaranteed. But it’s not so prohibitive that they’re likely to cut him without at least bringing him to training camp and allowing him the opportunity to earn his way onto the team. If he doesn’t, they can simply cut him and save a little over $1 million after roster displacement.