Tyson Alualu is thrilled to be a Pittsburgh Steeler, reviving his career and arguably playing better than ever before. But him wearing black and gold almost didn’t happen. Alualu spoke to the local media Thursday morning and explained after hitting free agency in 2017, he wasn’t interested in signing with Pittsburgh.
“Initially I was a free agent in 2017,” he said. “I didn’t think they showed that much interest. I think my agent, who I thank now, told me to come and take this trip. Because when I came out, I was trying to look for a one year deal and the Steelers were trying to do at least two. So I came out thinking, I’m gonna just see what it’s about. And then for me, one of the best decisions that I made for my career. And now I’m just thankful for it.”
He’s the forgotten first round pick on a defense full of them. Drafted 10th overall by Jacksonville in the 2010 draft, he spent seven years with the Jaguars. Far from a bust but not someone who ever quite lived up to the lofty billing of a top ten selection (though to be fair, many analysts were shocked to see Alualu go that early).
Alualu signed a two-year, $6 million deal in March of 2017 to join Pittsburgh. His first season with the team was strong, recording four sacks in five starts, before falling off in 2018, failing to register a sack and being labeled as a run stuffer with very limited pass rush ability.
For whatever reason, things changed starting last year. He’s felt like a different player even if the stats didn’t show it, picking up just one sack. He’s gotten even better this year, shifting inside to nose tackle in replacing Javon Hargrave, and bullying just about every center he’s faced. With Alualu on the field this season, opposing offenses are averaging just 1.9 YPC, an absurdly low number. He re-signed with the team on another two-year deal in 2019.
One less talked about aspect of Alualu’s game is his durability. He’s missed just one game in four seasons with the Steelers and only three games his entire career. Of the 2010 draft class, he only trails Ndamukong Suh in games played. Here’s the top five.
1. Ndamukong Suh – 165
2. Tyson Alualu – 163
3. Devin McCourty – 161
4. Jimmy Graham – 160
5. Jerry Hughes – 159
Alualu has been durable, physical, and as consistent as they come. As many players have found out, Pittsburgh is the right place to call home.