The new league year has already offered answers to many of the top Pittsburgh Steelers’ offseason questions. Will the team add a quarterback? Yes, Mitch Trubisky. Will JuJu Smith-Schuster come back? No, his TikToks will now be conducted in Kansas City. Will the team spend more aggressively – relatively speaking, at least – with their additional cap space? Definitely and welcome to the team James Daniels, Levi Wallace, Myles Jack, and company.
But one question remains unknown. Will Stephon Tuitt play in 2022? So far there’s no conclusive answer and Kevin Colbert’s comments today provided no definitiveness either way. But similar to what he said earlier in the offseason, Colbert struck an optimistic tone ins speaking to the media Sunday. That’s according to Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley, who relayed his comments in this tweet.
Colbert: 'As of now (Stephon) Tuitt is on our team, but we also have Chris Wormley that started last year. We're hopeful (Stephon) can continue his career because he's a significant player. In the meantime Wormley has filled that position and I qualify him as a starter as well.'
— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) March 27, 2022
Clearly, that’s not a yes/no type of answer, though it’s leaning towards the “yes, he will return” side of things. Still, Colbert was quick to point out the play of Chris Wormley, who stepped in for Tuitt in 2021. His first year as a full-time starter, Wormley notched a career-high seven sacks and played a solid all-around game, even if the overall team statistics, like their 32nd-ranked run defense, don’t support the notion. It was a lack of depth and youth at the bottom of the roster that heavily contributed to the team’s struggles.
In early March, Colbert told reporters Tuitt expressed a desire to return to football after missing 2021 due to the death of his brother and a knee injury that landed him on IR.
“He wanted to play last year,” Colbert said on March 1st. “He had a knee injury that he had to work his way through and obviously had the family situation that hurt that along those lines. But we respected what he had to deal with. And we tried to support him as best as possible.”
Recently, The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette wrote Tuitt has been spotted at the team facility, again suggesting his desire to play in 2022. But it sounds like Tuitt is still feeling out and working through the process. That will frustrate fans looking for an immediate answer but the team is allowing Tuitt to take the time he needs to make a decision he’s at peace with.
Should Tuitt return, the Steelers’ defense will see a major boost. He and Cam Heyward formed one of the league’s best duos in 2020, both able to stay healthy over the course of the entire season and nearly reached 20 combined sacks in the process. Tuitt playing would allow Wormley to become one of the game’s best rotational linemen and give the Steelers six quality players on their roster: Tuitt, Heyward, Wormley, Tyson Alualu, Montravius Adams, and Isaiahh Loudermilk.
But we won’t know Tuitt’s status until a later date. It’s possible we don’t get a definitive answer until spring workouts when OTAs kick up in May.
Update (3:22 PM): Mike Tomlin struck a similar tone to Colbert, noting his optimism but cautioned he does not know for sure if Tuitt will play this year.
Tomlin said he “excited and optimistic” about the possible return of DE Stephon Tuitt, who missed the 2021 season with personal issues. But he stopped short of saying Tuitt would be back for sure. “I don’t have any definitive information regarding his participating in 2022.”
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) March 27, 2022