2021 Offseason Questions: How Significant A Move Is It For Defense To Bring Back Tyson Alualu?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

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: How significant a move was it for the defense to land back with Tyson Alualu?

Entering the offseason, many took it as pretty much a given that the Steelers would be able to somewhat easily retain the services of defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, who had arguably the best season of his professional career a year ago.

While they ultimately were able to bring him back, it was far from easy, as, in fact, he had initially agreed in principle to return to the Jacksonville Jaguars, with whom he spent the first seven years of his career. After being prevented from being able to head down to sign his contract because he contracted Covid-19, he and his family did some reconsidering, and chose to stay ‘home’, in Pittsburgh.

It’s a significant decision for the Alualu family, and perhaps even indicates that this is where they will ultimately plant their roots when he retires. But before he can do that, he’s still got a job to do, right in the middle of this Steelers defensive front.

It was thought to be a daunting task for the team to replace Javon Hargrave at nose tackle after he left in free agency a year ago. But Alualu showed to be more than capable of holding his own against the run. There is no substitute for Hargrave’s pass rush, but then, that’s why he’s making eight figures.

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