It’s almost been one full week since Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt decided to retire and since then there has been rampant speculation as to if the team will sign an experienced free agent to help fill his void. On Tuesday, the first day of the Steelers 2022 mandatory minicamp, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to comment on Tuitt’s retirement and the state of the defensive line moving forward without the team’s former second round draft pick
“I’m excited about the guys we have here to work with in that regard,” Tomlin said after Tuesday practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “Obviously, we’re supportive of Tuitt and his decision and we’ve released a statement in that regard. It’s been a pleasure to work with him and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward, but our energies and all our attention are focused on the guys that are available to us.”
The Steelers opened up their mandatory minicamp with 11 defensive linemen on their offseason roster. That list of players includes the likes of Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Chris Wormley, Montravius Adams, Isaiahh Loudermilk, DeMarvin Leal, Carlos Davis, Henry Mondeaux, Khalil Davis, Daniel Archibong, and Donovan Jeter. While two of those 11 players are rookies in Leal and Jeter, eight of the other nine played snaps for the Steelers in 2021 and that even includes Archibong. The other player, Khalil Davis, spent time on the Steelers practice squad last year.
In essence, and as the breakdown above should show, the Steelers should know quite a bit about most of their defensive lineman currently under contract. Because of that, it’s a good bet that the team won’t sign an experienced defensive lineman off the street in the near future, barring an injury or two happening.
While officially losing Tuitt this summer will be a big loss for the Steelers, it certainly seems at this point that the organization has known for a while that he might decide to not continue his career. After all, the team did select Leal in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft in addition to re-signing Adams earlier in the offseason.
The Steelers defensive line was a mess last season and especially against the run. Not having Tuitt for any of last season and losing Alualu to injury in Week 2 certainly played a huge part in that. With two practices left in the team’s offseason schedule, Tomlin certainly makes it sound like this year’s group of six or seven defensive linemen that will be on the team’s Week 1 53-man roster will come from the 11 currently under contract on June 7.
“We can waste a lot of time talking about who doesn’t play for us,” Tomlin said on Tuesday.
Coach Mike Tomlin on a productive day of practice, running the two minute drill, the chemistry of the offensive line and more. ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/HQSQOc8mIz
— Steelers Live (@SteelersLive) June 7, 2022