CBSSports.com’s Chris Trapasso wrote an article naming nine NFL players facing make-or-break seasons in 2022. Among the nine players included was Steelers LB Devin Bush, with Trapasso including him in the “Players who dipped after playing well early and now are in a prove-it year” category.
“But over time, his stellar play close to the line of scrimmage and when attacking downhill was counteracted by shoddy coverage, and a torn ACL in Week 6 of 2020 derailed what mostly looked like a promising start to his pro career,” Trapasso wrote. “Then in 2021, Bush wasn’t himself. He missed more tackles than ever, was hardly a force in the box and the coverage woes continued. The Steelers didn’t exercise his fifth-year option, thereby making him an impending free agent after the 2022 campaign.”
Bush being an impending free agent makes this year all the more valuable for him. When the Steelers didn’t exercise the fifth-year option of OLB Bud Dupree, he awarded the team with a career year and ended up being franchise-tagged the following offseason. The hope for Bush is that he can have that same sort of season in his fourth year in the league.
Bush looked like he was worth trading up for after his promising rookie season, where he showed off his elite athleticism that made Pittsburgh so enamored with him in the first place. He never seemed to recover from his torn ACL, and his playing time decreased along with his production. After playing alongside Joe Schobert last season, Pittsburgh signed Myles Jack to fill the other starting ILB role next to Bush. Pittsburgh will be hoping that a new (and likely better) partner will help Bush return to the form he showed during the first year and a half of his NFL career. If he doesn’t, Bush will end up looking like a bad draft day miss and likely won’t return in free agency if he struggles.
If Bush returns to form, Pittsburgh’s run defense should improve from the abysmal numbers they put up last season. Having a solid run defense would be huge for Pittsburgh, as it would take it away their biggest weakness defensively and would put less pressure on the young offense to have to score. It would also help them remain fresh, so teams couldn’t put together long, sustained drives with the run game which would help the starters get more run.
Obviously, nobody is hoping Devin Bush has a better season this year than Devin Bush. He has a lot to lose (or gain) in terms of money and a new contract dependent on how he performs in 2022. If Bush returns to form, he’ll likely be rewarded with a pretty expensive new contract, either in Pittsburgh or elsewhere. If he struggles, he potentially could be looking at less money per year than the $3 million+ he’s guaranteed this year.
Let us know in the comments if you think Bush is capable of bouncing back and becoming a contributor for the 2022 Steelers.