2023 Steelers Exit Interviews: Connor Heyward and Godwin Igwebuike
The Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 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 2024.
Since the Steelers conduct exit interviews with all their players, and the fact I have done these articles in the past, we thought we would do the same here at Steel Curtain Network. 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 and those heading into free agency, we will attempt to do the same to some degree. To start, we will pair the most recent draftees with another player at the same position (if possible) as we work through this process to eventually cover the entire Steelers roster.
Next up are Connor Heyward and Godwin Igwebuike.
Position: Tight End/Fullback
Years with the Steelers: 2
Years in the NFL: 2
Contract Status: Signed through 2025
Contract Details: $1,023,806 salary cap hit for 2024. Would cost the Steelers $77,612 in dead money if released and save $946,194.
Games played in 2023: 17 regular season
Games started in 2023: 7 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 403 (offense), 247 (special teams)
PFF score: 55.5 (53rd of 72); 71.0 (special teams)
Notable stats: During the regular season, Heyward had 167 receiving yards from 23 receptions on 34 targets. Heyward also had 2 special teams tackles.
Notes: Although he averaged less than 10 receiving yards per game, Connor Heyward did bring more to the Steelers than just his receiving. Now one of the Steelers key special teams players, Heyward should not have to worry about if his particular skill set will be highlighted with a new offensive coordinator simply because his special teams contributions alone justify his roster spot. But exactly how he will be utilized moving forward is a big question for 2024.
Position: Running Back
Years with the Steelers: 1
Years in the NFL: 4
Contract Status: Free Agent
Contract Details: Contract expiring with no dead money
Games played in 2023: 10 regular season
Games started in 2023: 0 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 0 (offense), 117 (special teams)
PFF score: 60.0 (DNQ for ranking w/ATL); 80.2 (special teams w/PIT)
Notable stats: During the regular season, Igwebuike had 11 kickoff returns for 282 yards with a long of 36 yards. Igwebuike also had one special teams tackle.
Notes: Playing two games for the Atlanta Falcons the first two weeks this season as a practice squad elevation, Godwin Igwebuike was then signed by the Steelers but was inactive his first three games. When Anthony McFarland was unavailable as a kick returner, Igwebuike took over the job. Giving it up for two games in Week 10 and Week 11, Igwebuike was the kick returner the rest of the way down the stretch. Not under contract for next season, it will be interesting to see if the Steelers bring Igwebuike back on a small deal. Since the Steelers did not have their number three running back have a single carry all season, Igwebuike might be looking for a more prominent role somewhere else in the NFL. If nothing else, Igwebuike showed he was a capable returner in Week 18 when he went out of bounds to reach back and touch a kickoff.
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:
Broderick Jones & Chuks Okorafor
Joey Porter Jr. & Levi Wallace
Keeanu Benton & Montravius Adams
Darnell Washington & Rodney Williams
Nick Herbig & Markus Golden
Cory Trice Jr. & James Pierre
Spencer Anderson & Dylan Cook
Kenny Pickett & Mason Rudolph
George Pickens & Miles Boykin
DeMarvin Leal & Armon Watts
Calvin Austin III & Allen Robinson