The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2016 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Never the less, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
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 2016 season.
Player: Jesse James
Position: Tight End
Experience: 2 Years
The 2016 season didn’t exactly go according to plan for the Steelers when it comes to the tight end position. Jesse James probably didn’t get the workload that he figured he would, either. That is, he saw a lot more playing time than was likely in the cards when the team assembled their plans for the season following free agency and the draft.
The circumstances surrounding this are well-understood by regular readers here and thus don’t need to be rehashed, but suffice it to say that injuries left James in a starting role that he perhaps was not initially ready for, but which he appeared to grow into over the course of the season.
A 2015 fifth-round draft pick as an underclassman, it would be safe to say that the Steelers did not draft James thinking that he was going to come in and become an every-down player for them. But there were many games in which he was just that. There were even games in which he literally played every offensive snap.
He had his issues to be sure, particularly early on. He flubbed a couple of high-profile blocks, both in run support and in pass protection, that made him look bad. He dropped a ball or two and failed to come up with a couple of difficult catches. More than anything, he seemed unable to gained yards after contact.
All of those issues improved over the course of the season after it initially appeared that he had regressed from the progress that he had shown by the end of his rookie season the year before.
In fact, he wound up playing some of the best football of his career when the Steelers needed him most in the postseason, more specifically the first two games. He featured prominently on some important blocks in each of those first two games and came up with some big catches, even if they were the product of him being schemed open.
It’s unclear what the future holds for him because the tight end position is unclear. It’s hard to comment on the future of Ladarius Green right now, for example. We have no reason to assume that he has yet cleared the concussion protocol at this point, which is a scary thing. With or without Green still in the picture, the team might still want to address the position. But no matter what they do, there will be a role for James, whether it’s starting or coming off the bench.