In early May, the Pittsburgh Steelers declined to pick the fifth-year option of 2019 first-round pick Devin Bush Jr., making 2022 a contract year for the 23-year-old Michigan product. The team wants to see Bush demonstrate the promise he showed as a rookie, when he recorded 109 tackles (72 solo), including nine tackles for loss, two interceptions, four fumble recoveries and one sack. But even if he does, “it’s probably Bush’s last year with the Steelers,” says Mark Kaboly of The Athleticbecause a good year could allow him to command a second contract bigger than the Steelers are willing to pay.
With that in mind, Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski thinks Bush is the only player the Steelers should consider trade before the start of the regular season, arguing that Pittsburgh’s defense “doesn’t necessarily need Bush to achieve its goals.”
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Who else do the Steelers have at ILB?
Still, offloading Bush would leave the Steelers decidedly thin as an inside linebacker, as none of the other ILBs on the roster possess anything close to the speed and athleticism that the former No. General showed before tearing his ACL against the Cleveland Browns in his second season. .
The Steelers added Myles Jack — a former Jacksonville Jaguars second-round pick — in free agency. Jack may or may not be an upgrade from recently released Joe Schobert, who received a 52.1 rating by Pro Football Focus (PFF) for 2021, this compared to the dismal score of 37.7 PFF gave Jack.
Beyond that, the Steelers still employ Robert “Front of the Plane” Spillane, who has proven to be a capable running defender but is easily exposed in the passing game, not to mention the second man. year Buddy Johnson, whom Kaboly described as “a solid downhill linebacker who could make some noise in training camp.
After that there’s converted safety Marcus Allen, a 2018 fifth-round pick whose contributions have been largely limited to special teams; 2019 sixth-round pick Ulysees Gilbert III, who has been hampered by injuries (including a fractured vertebra) in his first three seasons; and 2022 seventh-round pick Mark Robinson, who seems destined for the practice squad, given he’s a converted running back who played linebacker for just a year in the university.
Could Omar Khan take a different approach than Kevin Colbert?
History suggests that Pittsburgh will ask Bush to play the fourth year of his contract and see where things stand after that, much like they did with 2018 first-round pick Terrell Edmunds, who saw his fifth-year option declined but returns for the 2022 season on a one-year contract worth $2.5 million.
After all, it’s hard to see how Bush could recover enough in a preseason trade to justify giving up a potential rebound year. It’s also an open question about how the organization views Bush’s past missteps on social media, which has previously prompted Steelers captain Cameron Heyward to admit that Bush “can be a jerk sometimes.” .
But it’s possible new GM Omar Khan will take a different approach than longtime GM Kevin Colbert, much like he did with Minkah Fitzpatrick negotiations, which recently led to a contract extension. which makes Fitzpatrick the highest paid safety in the league. In the Colbert era, Fitzpatrick’s negotiations would not have been completed until September, as was the case with TJ Watt (September 2021) and Cameron Heyward (September 2020).
Salary Cap Implications of a Devin Bush Swap
As for the financial implications of a possible trade, the Steelers would save Bush’s salary of $3,068,424 but trigger a dead money cap charge of $2,936,230, representing a total salary cap hit of $6,004,654, or 2.8% of Pittsburgh’s salary cap in 2022, according to overthecap.com.
A recent Steelers salary cap update reveals the team already has $30,863,174 billed to players who are no longer on the team, including recently retired Ben Roethlisberger and Stephon Tuitt.
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