The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 NFL season is over. Because the Steelers are one of 31 teams that haven’t finished reaching their ultimate goal, they’re wrapping up their season and moving forward into 2022.
Since the Steelers conduct exit interviews with all of their players, we here at BTSC thought we would do the same. By describing two players each day, we will be able to look back on their season as well as look forward. Since Coach Tomlin said he’s starting his interviews with rookies, first-year players and those heading into free agency, we’ll do the same. To start, we’ll match a potential free agent with a freshman player as we work through this process to eventually cover the entire Steelers roster.
Next, cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon and James Pierre
Years with the Steelers: 1
Years in the NFL: 5
Contract status: Free agent
Contract details: No extra cash on trade, but Steelers owe Seattle Seahawks 2023 fifth-round pick
Matches played in 2021: 9 regular season, 1 playoffs
Games started in 2021: 3 regular season, 1 playoffs
Snaps (regular season): 368 (defense), 20 (special units)
PFF rating: 75.8 (14th out of 120)
Notable stats (regular season): Witherspoon had 15 tackles, including one for a loss, nine passes defended and a team-high three interceptions.
Remarks: Called up in Week 2 when Joe Haden was injured, Witherspoon went for four defensive snaps while allowing a touchdown. Not picking up a helmet until Week 11, Witherspoon slowly showed the Steelers what he was capable of and earned himself a starting position in Week 13. After leading the Steelers in interceptions, Witherspoon showed not only that the Steelers trade was worth it, but also that he got another contract if they can work out the details.
Years with the Steelers: 2
Years in the NFL: 2
Contract status: Signed until 2022 (will then be a restricted free agent)
Contract details: $898,000 the salary cap reached for 2022. It would cost the Steelers $3,000 in dead money if released.
Matches played in 2021: 17 regular season, 1 playoffs
Games started in 2021: 4 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 414 (defense), 244 (special units)
PFF rating: 58.1 (86th out of 120)
Notable stats (regular season): Pierre had 47 tackles, three forced fumbles, four passes defended and one interception.
Remarks: Having the opposite trajectory of Witherspoon, James Pierre was the next man on the outside corner until he struggled in Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals. After that point, Witherspoon became the man and Pierre didn’t play another shot on defense. With another year remaining with the Steelers under contract, Pierre needs to show he can be the player the Steelers thought he would come in 2021.
So what do you think? How would you conduct Witherspoon and Pierre’s exit interview? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Be sure to check back each day for another set of exit interviews. If you missed any of the previous articles, they are listed here:
Ben Roethlisberger and Najee Harris
Eric Ebron and Pat Freiermuth
Trai Turner and Kendrick Green
Chuks Okorafor and Dan Moore Jr.
Robert Spillane and Buddy Johnson
Montravius Adams & Isaiahh Loudermilk
Joe Haden and Tre Norwood
Christian Kuntz and Pressley Harvin
JuJu Smith-Schuster & Cody White
JC Hassenauer & John Leglue
Marcus Allen and Tegray scales
James Washington and Chase Claypool
Taco Charlton and Alex Highsmith