He may not be somebody who built a lasting legacy for himself in the city, but former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Chris Hubbard was ably to secure one for his family this offseason thanks to a lucrative new contract that he signed early on in the free agency process with the Cleveland Browns.
An undrafted free agent out of UAB in 2013, Hubbard seemed barely to even make the practice squad as a rookie, but he hung around, made the roster the following two seasons (to the chagrin of myself and others), and spent the next four years carving himself into a legitimate NFL starting-caliber player.
While he might have departed (literally a couple days ago) from Pittsburgh for Cleveland, however, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still feel the love, and it’s a two-way street. He told Jeremy Fowler that the entire organization was “legitimately happy” for him when he signed a substantial big-money contract in free agency.
“They mean the world to me as far as a brotherhood and what we’ve had. It’s been bittersweet, too. The Steelers gave me my first opportunity to join the team, just a world-class group. Just to give me the opp to come in”.
It’s almost funny to think about it, but Hubbard was with the Steelers nearly as long as David DeCastro has been there. He truly grew up from an afterthought to a starter over the span of half a decade. From being a moving part who wasn’t given the opportunity to grow at any one position to now a starting right tackle, it’s frankly refreshing to following the development of a player, even if his payday comes elsewhere.
While it should probably be pointed out that only $9 million of Hubbard’s five-year, $36.5 million contract he signed with Cleveland is actually guaranteed (including a $4 million signing bonus and $2.5 million in guaranteed base salary and roster bonus each in 2018), that is already more in and of itself than he earned in four seasons with the Steelers.
“We’re taken care of the rest of our lives”, he told Fowler. “Before, we sort of lived game check to game check… I can’t believe I’m in this position now, so I just want to be able to save it and help out my family the best way I can. I do like to save a lot, but being able to be in a tax bracket, I’m going to have to put money here and there”.
I realize fan empathy for some only goes so far when it comes to talking about millionaires’ money (frankly, it’s a conversation we’ve had about Hubbard before on this site), but the point is that there is still love between Hubbard and the Steelers, and I think that’s good to see.
He made a decision based on his family and nobody can begrudge him that. “That’s the game changer”, he said, “working with financial advisors to get a game plan mapping out my son’s life, taking care of my wife, doing whatever I can”.