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The Athletic: 2022 “Likely” Devin Bush’s Last Year In Pittsburgh

Earlier this week, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly published an article with his thoughts on every player on defense and special teams for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kaboly wrote that signing Myles Jack “gives the Steelers what they were looking for when they drafted Devin Bush in 2019,” and later goes on to say that he believes 2022 will be Bush’s last season in Pittsburgh.

“Bush must return to his rookie form. Not many outside the Steelers’ building think that can happen, especially with what they saw from him last year,” Kaboly writes. “Bush is 100 percent healthy now and is playing for a contract after the Steelers declined his fifth-year option. Either way, this is likely Bush’s last year with the Steelers.”

It really wouldn’t be surprising if this was indeed the case. Bush wasn’t the same player after coming off his Torn ACL in his second year in the league, and Pittsburgh has gone outside the organization for help at inside linebacker each of the last two years. Last year, the team traded for ILB Joe Schobert in August after drafting ILB Buddy Johnson, and this year the team drafted ILB Mark Robinson and also signed Jack. Declining Bush’s fifth-year option is a sign the team doesn’t have faith in him to turn things around, although they did bring back S Terrell Edmunds this offseason after his fifth-year option was declined.

Pittsburgh’s hope would be that either Johnson or Robinson looks the part of a capable starting LB at some point within the next year. While the Steelers still have Robert Spillane, he’s more suited as a backup linebacker than a true three-down player. If either Johnson or Robinson show that potential, it will make the decision to let Bush walk a whole lot easier, regardless of how he plays this season. 

If Bush does return close to his rookie-year form, it will be interesting to see how Pittsburgh handles him. It’s no secret Bush has the physical tools to be a great linebacker, which is why the Steelers moved up to 10th overall to pick him in the 2018 draft. Still, his performance last year raised some major red flags and a bounce-back year might not be enough to give him the sort of contract he could be looking for. 

It is telling, however, that Pittsburgh didn’t address inside linebacker until the seventh round of the draft. In the third round, Pittsburgh selected DeMarvin Leal with ILBs Channing Tindall and Leo Chenal still on the board. In the wake of Stephon Tuitt’s retirement, that decision looks like a good one, but it does point to the idea that the Steelers do at least still have some faith in Bush. If Bush can reward that faith with a decent season, his contract situation will be fascinating to follow come next off-season.

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