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2023 Steelers Exit Interviews: Miles Killebrew and Elijah Riley

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 safeties Miles Killebrew and Elijah Riley.

Miles Killebrew

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Safety
Years with the Steelers: 3
Years in the NFL: 8
Contract Status: Free Agent
Contract Details: Contract expiring with no dead money
Games played in 2023: 17 regular season
Games started in 2023: 1 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 111 (defense), 319 (special teams)
PFF score: 64.1 (DNQ for ranking), 90.4 (special teams)
Notable stats: During the regular season, Killebrew had 26 tackles and a safety. Killebrew was selected to both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro as a special teamer.

Notes: It’s hard to deny the special teams contributions of Miles Killebrew, especially with him being the special teams captain the last two seasons. I still can’t believe some had left him off their projected 53-man roster to start 2023 only for him to earn All-Pro honors as a special teamer. Killebrew started only one game this season and it was in Week 12 against Cincinnati and the first defensive snap of the game was the only one he played. Killebrew did play more defensive snaps the Steelers last four games of the regular season as they were trying to cover for the loss of Minkah Fitzpatrick among others. But Killebrew’s key contributions were on special teams and in Week 5 against the Ravens Killebrew blocked a punt which went out the back of the end zone for safety. Although not under contract for 2024, I don’t see any reason why the Steelers wouldn’t look to bring Killebrew back again as long as the price is right. Yes, he’s an All-Pro player, but overpaying for special teams is something teams can’t afford to do.

Elijah Riley

Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Safety
Years with the Steelers: 2
Years in the NFL: 4
Contract Status: Free Agent
Contract Details: Contract expiring with no dead money
Games played in 2023: 13 regular season
Games started in 2023: 0 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 50 (defense), 216 (special teams)
PFF score: 79.8 (DNQ for ranking), 54.1 (special teams)
Notable stats: During the regular season, Riley had 12 tackles and 1.0 sacks.

Notes: Missing four games for the Steelers with an ankle injury, Elijah Riley was not a regular contributor to the Steelers defense. His most defensive playing time came in Week 10 against the Green Bay Packers where he played 21 snaps. Instead, Riley offered depth at the depleted safety position while giving special teams play. The fact players “off the couch” received playing time over Riley could be looked at as a major problem, but Riley was one of the many players out at safety at the time Eric Rowe was called upon. Finishing up his two-year deal with the Steelers, Riley would not break the bank for the Steelers to bring back as he would most likely see a veteran salary benefit contract or something in that range. But returning to the Steelers also doesn’t guarantee a spot on the 53-man roster.

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
Connor Heyward & Godwin Igwebuike
Mark Robinson & Blake Martinez
Najee Harris & Jaylen Warren
Pat Freiermuth & Diontae Johnson
Dan Moore Jr. & Mason Cole
Isaiahh Loudermilk & Larry Ogunjobi
Pressley Harvin & Christian Kuntz
Kwon Alexander & Mykal Walker


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