The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 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 2023.
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 has previously 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 are wide receiver Calvin Austin III and fullback Derek Watt.
Calvin Austin III
Position: Wide Receiver
Years with the Steelers: 1
Years in the NFL: 1
Contract Status: Signed through 2025
Contract Details: $876,084 salary cap hit for 2023. Would cost the Steelers $378,252 in dead money if released while saving $497,832.
Games played in 2022: 0 regular season
Games started in 2022: 0 regular season
Snaps (regular season): None
PFF score: None
Notable stats: None
Notes: By one perspective, the Steelers have an extra fourth-round draft pick going into the 2023 season. No, they do not get an additional selection, but when players report to training camp at the end of July there will be an additional player who was selected in the fourth round which will be looking to make his first impact in the NFL. Calvin Austin suffered a foot injury in the Steelers final practice before the first preseason game. Unable to play a snap before going on the Reserve/Injured List to start the 2022 regular season, Austin was designated to return only to have another setback with his foot and lose his entire rookie season after having surgery. For this reason, Austin carries different weight throughout Steelers’ Nation. Some forget about him because he did not contribute in 2022 while others are very anxious to finally get their first look at what the speedster can do as both a receiver and possible return man. Hopefully 2023 brings a better situation for Austin going forward and he can have his opportunity to showcase his skills which made him a fourth-round draft pick in 2022.
Years with the Steelers: 3
Years in the NFL: 7
Contract Status: Free Agent
Contract Details: Contract expiring with no dead money.
Games played in 2022: 17 regular season
Games started in 2022: 3 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 77 (offense), 290 (special teams)
PFF score: 73.4 (DNQ for ranking)
Notable stats: Watt had seven rushing attempts for 21 yards and one touchdown with eight of his nine attempts achieving a first down. Watt also had five receptions on five targets for 11 yards and a receiving touchdown. Watt added four special teams tackles in 2022.
Notes: After garnering a somewhat expensive contract for a fullback when signing with the Steelers in 2020, Derek Watt showed his true value as being a core special teams player and was even special team captain in 2021 where he had 14 special teams tackles. Turning 30 this past season, Watt should not garner nearly the salary anywhere in the NFL this time around and would probably be well served to stick with the Steelers for as long as they will have him. Utilized so little on offense, it’s difficult for teams to shell out a significant contract with so little time spent in the field outside of special teams. But if Derek is happy in Pittsburgh, hopefully his expectations in terms of salary are much lower if he is even looking to continue his NFL career.
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:
Kenny Pickett & Mason Rudolph
George Pickens & Miles Boykin
DeMarvin Leal & Larry Ogunjobi
Connor Heyward & Zach Gentry
Mark Robinson & Devin Bush
Jaylen Warren & Benny Snell Jr.