Roster turnover is an inevitability in this league. But the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster has changed considerably since the end of last season. Many players who have been important to this franchise departed, either in retirement, limbo, or another uniform. As we wind down the time until training camp opens, it feels appropriate to acknowledge the old faces that we’ll no longer be seeing on the sidelines this year.
That includes Pro Bowlers and former high draft picks, as well as undrafted free agents of varying accomplishment. Four losses along the offensive line, multiple departures at linebacker and in the secondary, and other changes mixed in, will make for a rather different roster.
All the same, there are the steady presences that remain: the Ben Roethlisbergers, the T.J. Watts, the Cameron Heywards. Who will be the next long-term faces? Minkah Fitzpatrick will certainly be one. What about Cameron Sutton? Zach Banner? Kevin Dotson? Devin Bush? When will their names join this series?
C Maurkice Pouncey
Drafted 18th overall out of Florida in 2010, Maurkice Pouncey has been as much of a feature of this team over the course of that time as anybody else has, short perhaps of only Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin, and maybe Antonio Brown.
An 11-year veteran who went to the Pro Bowl in each of the nine seasons in which he played more than one game, Pouncey had a remarkable career, from which he elected to retire earlier this offseason. He and his twin brother, Mike, simultaneously announced their decisions to walk away from the game in February.
Both accomplished players, both Pro Bowlers, they are now on to their life’s work, and images that Maurkice has shared have shown that he has already very much begun to transform his body, becoming much slimmer from his playing weight.
It remains to be seen if he will take the Alan Faneca route and beginning running marathons or anything like that, but the retired life certainly seems to be treating him well so far, though one wonders if the Steelers’ cap situation wouldn’t have made the decision for them anyway.
Pouncey’s decision to retire saved Pittsburgh something like $8 million in cap space, if memory serves. At the very least, they would have had to rework his contract, likely adding void years just to spread out his hit, if they wanted him back. Or they might have let David DeCastro go then, instead.
As a player, it is fair to question just what his retirement means on the field. He was clearly not the same player he once was, even if his struggles were often exaggerated. The Steelers drafted Kendrick Green in the third round in May with the hopes of his continuing their growing line of accomplished athletic centers, but that’s a topic for another day.