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—some already decided, some not.
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 was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.
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: What did the Steelers know about Stephon Tuitt, and when did they know it?
One of the two biggest questions facing the Steelers from an on-field personnel standpoint this year has now unfortunately been answered. That question was whether or not Stephon Tuitt would play this season, and his announcement that he is retiring gives us a definitive answer.
Obviously, this raises some questions, as it seemed as though remarks from within the team—including the locker room—seemingly skewed toward the positive as the offseason progressed. It makes one wonder exactly what the Steelers knew, and when they might have known it.
The fact that the announcement came on June 1, the day that results in different cap handling practices—his prorated bonus for future years is now not accelerated into this year. The long and short of it is that they save more in cap space now (but not for 2023) than if Tuitt retired and had his papers processed prior to June 1.
Given the cap significance of the day, it’s reasonable for one to wonder if there was an awareness of this decision in advance of the announcement, perhaps considerably so. Is it possible that the front office knew this was the likely outcome as far back as the draft, more than a month ago?
I personally would tend to doubt that, but really, the only person who has been consistent in his comments throughout the past year regarding Tuitt’s status has been head coach Mike Tomlin, who has never had much to offer beyond “he’s progressing but there is no update beyond that”. Others like Art Rooney II, Kevin Colbert, and Cameron Heyward have offered comments that felt more definitively positive—were those comments wrong at the time, or was that where Tuitt was mentally then—or at least where he portrayed himself to be to those close to him?