The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will the Steelers be among the teams this year who have players exercise whatever opt-out clauses the NFL will put in place related to Covid-19?
As of the time of this writing (Wednesday night), the NFL and the NFLPA are still working out the fine details of an opt-out clause for players. It’s still being determined, for example, who will be exempt, by what point they have to choose to opt out, what happens with their contract, and whether or how they will be compensated. The one thing that is known is that there will be an opt-out option of some kind.
Every other major professional team sport in the United States has had at least one or two players announce that they would not be participating in this season for one personal reason or another, even some prominent players joining those ranks, especially in baseball and basketball.
The NFL fields 53 rostered players per team, and another 12-16 players on the practice squad. Out of over 2000 players that will be under contract in September, you have to figure that at least a couple of those players who would be there will have chosen to take an opt-out, whether for their own health or the health of their loved ones.
Obviously nobody wants to see this happen, but these are unique times, and special allowances must be made, and understanding extended. If any Steeler exercises an opt-out option, I would hope that at least our little community here will respect their choice, as well as the fact that they were given a choice.