Like Damontae Kazee, 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: Damontae Kazee
Experience: 7 Years
Pittsburgh liked what it saw from Damontae Kazee in 2022 enough to re-sign him and move on from Terrell Edmunds. Edmunds, their 2018 first-round pick, left in free agency only after the Steelers already re-signed Kazee. By then they had also signed Keanu Neal, yet another safety, as an outside free agent.
Kazee started nine of 14 games in which he played last season, though starts are ephemeral here. The Steelers employed a three-safety package and used him and Neal situationally. Even if he didn’t “start” every game, he spent the most time on the field. He logged 81 percent of the defensive snaps in the games in which he played, 772 in all.
He finished the year with 61 tackles, two interceptions, three passes defensed, and two fumble recoveries. Kazee also managed a three-game suspension after a vicious hit on WR Michael Pittman Jr. The NFL initially suspended him indefinitely but allowed him to return for the postseason.
He did return but played sparingly, just 20 snaps, making two tackles.
Kazee signed a two-year, $6 million contract last season, but do the Steelers view him as a starter going forward? Could they possibly balk at paying him $3 million in 2024? They also owe Neal $2,250,000. Perhaps they will choose to retain one over the other rather than retaining both.
They have enough problems with a lack of depth at the cornerback position, so they may want to leave well enough alone at safety. They are already concerned, perhaps, about Minkah Fitzpatrick returning to form without creating more holes they didn’t have before. And neither Kazee nor Neal make so much that it would impact the salary cap a great deal.