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Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Exit Interviews: Kalen Ballage and Anthony McFarland Jr.

The two running backs combined for 15 carries in 2021.

NFL: DEC 05 Ravens at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 NFL season has come to a close. Because the Steelers are among the 31 teams who did not finish fulfilling their ultimate goal, they are in the process of wrapping up their season and moving forward into 2022.

Since the Steelers conduct exit interviews with all their players, we here at BTSC thought we would do the same. By outlining two players each day, we will be able to look at their season in retrospect as well as looking toward the future. Since Coach Tomlin stated he starts his interviews with rookies, first year players, and those heading into free agency, we will do the same. To start, we will pair a potential free agent with a first-year player as we work through this process to eventually cover the entire Steelers roster.

Next up is running backs Kalen Ballage and Anthony McFarland Jr.

Kalen Ballage

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Position: Running back
Years with the Steelers: 1
Years in the NFL: 4
Contract Status: Free agent
Contract Details: Coming off a one-year minimum deal which carries no dead money.
Games played in 2021: 17 regular season, 1 postseason
Games started in 2021: None
Snaps (regular season): 65 (offense), 98 (special teams)
PFF score: 48.6 (DNQ for ranking)
Notable stats (regular season): Ballage had 12 carries for 36 yards; two receptions on seven targets for 8 yards.

Notes: It was interesting that Ballage had more snaps (20) in the Steelers playoff game than he did in any game during the regular season. Ballage also had the next most carries for the Steelers in the game behind Najee Harris. Does this mean the Steelers want to keep Ballage around for 2022? Perhaps. But it would likely be another league-minimum deal with no guarantee of making the 53-man roster.

Anthony McFarland Jr.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Position: Running back
Years with the Steelers: 2
Years in the NFL: 2
Contract Status: Signed through 2023
Contract Details: $1,075,608 salary cap hit for 2022. Would cost the Steelers $361,216 in dead money if released.
Games played in 2021: 2 regular season
Games started in 2021: None
Snaps (regular season): 19 (offense), 8 (special teams)
PFF score: 51.0 (DNQ for ranking)
Notable stats (regular season): McFarland had three carries for 3 yards; one reception on one target for 11 yards; 3 kickoff returns for 73 yards.

Notes: Coming into the season there were many who believed McFarland would be the compliment back to rookie Najee Harris. Starting the year on the Reserve/Injured List, McFarland only dressed for two games the entire season— one where the Steelers only dressed too tight ends and another when Ray-Ray McCloud was out as the kick returner. With McFarland not getting a helmet all the other games, he did not seem to be in the Steelers plans this season so it has to be questionable if he will still be there beyond. Under contract for two more seasons, this will be a key training camp and preseason to see if he sticks on the roster.

So what do you think? How would you conduct Ebron’s and Freiermuth’s exit interview? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Make sure you check back each day for another set of exit interviews. If you have missed any of the previous articles, they are listed here:

Ben Roethlisberger & Najee Harris
Eric Ebron & Pat Freiermuth
Trai Turner & Kendrick Green
Chuks Okorafor & Dan Moore Jr.
Robert Spillane & Buddy Johnson
Montravius Adams & Isaiahh Loudermilk
Joe Haden & Tre Norwood
Christian Kuntz & Pressley Harvin
JuJu Smith-Schuster & Cody White
J.C. Hassenauer & John Leglue
Marcus Allen & Tegray Scales
James Washington & Chase Claypool
Taco Charlton & Alex Highsmith
Ahkello Witherspoon & James Pierre
B.J. Finney & Kevin Dotson