Like Patrick Person, the Pittsburgh Steelers are right where we are: sitting at home being mad. Although they managed to make the playoffs in 2023, they lost in the first round. It has now been seven years without a postseason victory, the longest drought in franchise history. The question is what to do next.
The first step is always taking stock of what happened and what is left. That’s part of the exit meeting process, in which coaches meet with each player. They discuss the season and their expectations moving forward—and potentially their role within it.
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 2023 season.
Player: Patrick Peterson
Experience: 1,000,000 Years (estimate)
Way back when, in the days before Chuck Noll, the Steelers had a pattern of acquiring past-their-prime stars. They traded away first-round picks for names, in part to get hineys in seats, as much as for their play.
The Steelers didn’t sign Patrick Peterson to fill the stadium. They also didn’t trade anything for him. But they are getting him at the back end of his career. He said only a month ago he was glad Joey Porter Jr. took the CB1 responsibilities off his plate. He said he’s “a little bit too old to be doing that.”
And initially, he did look too old. Both he and Levi Wallace struggled quite a bit in the early portions of the season. Quietly, though, he stabilized. People stopped talking about his performance because he was playing better.
Most notably, he successfully transitioned to safety at the end of the season. With several injuries at the position, he started the final three games there and held his own on the whole. Whether that’s to be his new role on a full-time basis, we don’t know yet.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said in the days after the season that Peterson’s future remained uncertain. He signed a two-year, $14 million contract. But are they convinced he can play another full season as a starting outside cornerback?
If they don’t, then where is he going to play? Damontae Kazee and presumably Keanu Neal should both be back at safety. And Minkah Fitzpatrick is still around. There may be no room for safety. Perhaps he could transition into a full-time slot defender. They need slot help anyway.
At this stage of his career, his intelligence is his best friend. That includes his intelligence to line up all over the field and not get lost. To communicate effectively with those around him. He is that dependable veteran, or at least he needs to be if he is still on the team in 2024. Or even beyond, as he suggested.