The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor is heading into free agency, as is Trai Turner.
These are the sorts of topics 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. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Will Stephon Tuitt ever play a down of football again?
The Steelers’ defense gravely missed the presence of Stephon Tuitt all of last season. The eight-year veteran missed the entirety of the 2021 season after being placed on the Reserve/Injured List following a knee injury that required a minor procedure, which was done by early September.
The procedure left him temporarily using the aid of a crutch, reported Stan Savran; however, at the time, he also said that Tuitt had told him that he hoped to be back practicing within a matter of weeks. That he ended up never playing all year was obviously not a part of the plan (or else they wouldn’t have bothered to wait until he was eligible to return before they put him on IR).
Something more was obviously going on than only an injury, even if there was, objectively, an injury. Comments made by head coach Mike Tomlin and former defensive coordinator Keith Butler, as well as president Art Rooney II, have all alluded to that fact.
As we know, Tuitt’s younger brother was tragically killed by a hit-and-run driver in the offseason last year. He was excused from participation during the offseason process, though he was at training camp, working off to the side with T.J. Watt, which is seemingly when his injury occurred.
It seems overwhelmingly likely at this point that at least the Steelers believe he is considering retirement, after what he has gone through in his personal life. There also seemed to be some suggestion that there really hasn’t even been much contact or communication between the two camps, which even I acknowledge feels somewhat odd, even under the circumstances.
Tuitt has earned over $55 million over the course of the previous eight years with the Steelers since he was drafted in the second round. He has clearly made enough to live off of for the rest of his life with even a modicum of responsibility. Has he lost the will to put his mind and body through the rigors of an NFL season? Would the more than $9 million he would be due in base salary in 2022 entice him to work up to it? He is still just 28 years old.