Of the many possible conclusions the Pittsburgh Steelers could reach in answering the questions, they must ask themselves this offseason, one of the most probable in my mind is the idea that they should re-sign inside linebacker Devin Bush.
Bush has been among the worst linebackers in the league over the past two seasons who have garnered regular playing time. Even with modest improvements a year ago, his play, and perhaps his attitude as well, left much to be desired.
Now due to be an unrestricted free agent after collecting over $19 million guaranteed on his rookie contract, it is overwhelmingly likely he is heading elsewhere in 2023, if not nowhere. Asked about the chances of the Steelers re-signing Bush, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a recent chat gave it a 1 percent chance of it happening.
One wonders if it is not mutual. The Steelers opted to play rookie seventh-round linebacker Mark Robinson over Bush at the end of last season, not exactly a good sign that they see him in their future plans.
Even as recently as August, during training camp, Bush didn’t even seem particularly concerned about where he might be playing in 2023. Posed a question about the possibility of this being a pivotal year for his future in Pittsburgh, he simply said that he was sure he would be playing somewhere in 2023.
Most players in a similar situation, particularly those who were drafted by the organization, would say something to the effect that they hoped they would play their whole career in that city. Some variation of that theme tends to be the stock answer, whether sincere or not.
Of course, he’s never been much of a stock figure ever since he first entered the NFL, especially with regard to fashion.
That it feels unlikely the Steelers would have much interesting in re-signing the man they traded up in the first round for does strike one as damning. It is especially so given their uncertainty at inside linebacker. Robert Spillane is also an unrestricted free agent, and the status of Myles Jack with his $8 million base salary is ambiguous, at least to those on the outside.
Bush logged 659 snaps last season, seeing a career-low 62 percent of the snaps for games in which he played. He did record 81 tackles with two for loss, along with two passes defensed. But he had no interceptions, no forced fumbles, no fumble recoveries, and no sacks.
Former first-round picks coming off of their rookie contract often get additional opportunities other players might not. Pedigree can still go a long way in that regard. I have no doubt he will sign with another team in free agency. What the value of his contract will be is another matter. One thing about which I’m confident is that nobody will be handing him a starting job.