Keith Butler will not be returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers next season, announcing his retirement over the weekend. He’s not sure if Stephon Tuitt will don the black and gold next year either.
Butler spoke to 93.7 The Fan’s Andrew Fillipponi and guest Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network and was asked if he thought Tuitt would be back on the field in 2022.
“I don’t know. I really don’t know,” he told the show Monday. “That’s going to have to be up to Mr. Rooney and the organization really. I have no idea, to be honest with you. I don’t know where he’s sitting mentally. That’s something that’s very private and we didn’t know a whole lot about. We just took it for granted that the thing that happened to him and his family was very, very hard on him. And he really struggled with it.”
Tuitt’s brother was killed in a hit-and-run incident last June. When he returned to the team for training camp, he never had an official practice, spending his days on the sidelines or sometimes, not on the field at all. On a handful of days, he lightly went through drills on the side, often with TJ Watt during his “hold-in” for a new contract.
Tuitt also underwent knee surgery early on in the season. He seemed to be making progress with photos mid-season showing him practicing in some capacity. But he was never designated from injured reserve and reportedly, wasn’t around the team much by the end of the year. It’s unknown if that was related to the injury, him still grieving the loss of his brother, or both.
Based on Butler’s comments, Tuitt’s status truly seems up in the air for next year. But Butler said he hopes Tuitt is able to return.
“I hope he comes back with the team. I don’t know if he will. We’ll see what happens.”
Tuitt last played in 2020, recording a career-year with 11 sacks and becoming a dominant pairing next to Cam Heyward. Turning 29 in May, his contract runs through the 2022 season. Cutting him would only save the team lesss than $4 million in cap space.
Again, check out the whole interview at the link here where Butler offers several revealing quotes about his time with the team.