PITTSBURGH -- In a season filled with struggle, the Steelers found light in areas they've been searching for in years past. Highlighted by their defense but complimented by special teams, Pittsburgh's season stayed alive through the parts they weren't expecting points from.
For the fourth-straight year, the Steelers have relied on former seventh-round pick, Tyler Matakevich, to produce outside of his original linebacker spot. As a special teams ace throughout his career, the veteran has developed into one of Pittsburgh's most reliable playmakers on punt and kick coverage.
But as the 2019 season wound to a close, Matakevich played the final snaps of his four-year rookie contract. Entering the new year as an unrestricted free agent, the linebacker is hoping he stays in the city that brought him into this league.
"I love it here," Matakevich said. "Pittsburgh's been awesome, I love everything about the organization, Coach T is by far one of my favorite coaches. I would love to stay but only if they give me the opportunity. We'll just have to see what happens."
Primarily a special teams product, Matakevich hasn't seen much contribution on the defensive front. After a short stint as a competitor for Ryan Shazier's replacement, the Temple grad fell back into his role on coverage as the team moved Jon Bostic into the starting lineup.
The goal remains to be a linebacker in the NFL, but Matakevich is taking whatever role comes with his NFL home. Whether it's Pittsburgh or a new organization, his focus is helping the team in whatever way needed.
"Of course I want to play defense, I want to play linebacker," Matakevich said. "I know I can but shoot, whatever team I'm on whatever my role is, my role here is be that stud on special teams and god for bid they need me to in at linebacker I go in, and that's just sort of been my role here."
In 2019, the linebacker played 308 special teams snaps and recorded 16 tackles. A player many believed was 'snubbed' from the Pro Bowl, a statement he laughed and agreed with, he's made a career for himself in Pittsburgh.
Now, he enters the offseason with hopes of returning but plenty of uncertainty. He's aware there's unfinished business in the locker room and if he had his choice, he'd be back to finish it in the black and gold.
"I'll just be working out and we'll see what happens," he said. "But like I said, I'm hoping to stay here. I love all these guys, these guys are my boys."