Tagged in: Pittsburgh Steelers

JuJu Smith-Schuster opts to re-sign with Pittsburgh Steelers

JuJu Smith-Schuster on Friday revealed he has agreed to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, becoming just the third wide receiver in the modern era to earn a second contract with the organization, joining Hines Ward and Antonio Brown.

Smith-Schuster told NFL Network on Friday that he had strong offers from the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs. Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Philadelphia Eagles also offered a multiyear deal with more money.

Instead, Smith-Schuster wound up staying with the Steelers on a one-year deal that he told NFL Network was “probably like my third-lowest offer.”

A source told ESPN’s Field Yates that Smith-Schuster’s $8 million contract with the Steelers has a $7 million signing bonus, $1 million base salary and four void years. The contract’s structure will result in a $2.4 million cap hit in 2021 and a $5.6 million cap hit in 2022, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.

“This is my home, they’re gonna need a wrecking ball to take me outta here! PITTSBURGH I LOVE YOU, LET’S GO!!!!!” he posted on Twitter.

Signing Smith-Schuster doesn’t come without consequences, however, and the cap-strapped Steelers also have granted permission to starting cornerback Steven Nelson to seek a trade, a source told Schefter.

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The Steelers had less than $4 million in cap space as of Friday morning, and trading or cutting Nelson would free up a little more than $8 million.

Nelson’s departure would make him the fifth starting defensive player to depart from the team in free agency, including veteran linebacker Vince Williams, who was released earlier this week.

Smith-Schuster’s 2020 season concluded on something of a sour note as he came under fire for his comments before the season-ending playoff loss to the rival Cleveland Browns.

“I think they’re still the same Browns that I’ve played every year,” Smith-Schuster stated before the match. “I think they’re nameless gray faces. They have a couple of good players on their team. But at the end of the day, the Browns is the Browns.”

The receiver also was scrutinized during the season for his dances on the midfield logos of opponents before games that he posted on TikTok — a practice he stopped after coach Mike Tomlin talked to him when it was drawing more and more attention from opponents and media.

Smith-Schuster, 24, became a fan favorite soon after he was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft. Known for riding his bicycle to the team’s South Side facility, Smith-Schuster gained even more notoriety when it was stolen and then returned within 24 hours.

In four NFL seasons, he has 308 receptions for 3,726 yards and 26 touchdowns in 58 games.

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Ben Roethlisberger signs with Pittsburgh Steelers for 2021 NFL season

Ben Roethlisberger is officially back with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 2021 NFL season, the team revealed Thursday.

The Steelers did not disclose the terms, but a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Roethlisberger willingly reduced his pay to $14 million from $19 million in this final year of his contract and spread the cash payment through 2022. The move lowers the team’s salary-cap hit by more than $15 million.

“It is my greatest honor to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and give my all for this organization,” Roethlisberger said in a statement issued by the team. “I am grateful to be at this stage of my career and more than happy to adjust my contract in a way that best helps the team address other players who are so vital to our success. I love this game and love to compete, and I believe in this team and my ability to deliver when called upon. It all starts with great preparation and I am ready to go.”

Roethlisberger was previously under contract for the 2021 season, although the team made it clear he could not return with the $41.2 million cap hit.

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“We are excited we were able to come to an agreement with Ben Roethlisberger on a new contract for him to return to the Steelers in 2021,” general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “We know that Ben can still play at a high level and do special things for this team. Our goal remains the same — to put together a roster that will compete for another championship. We are happy that Ben will be one of our leaders to help us accomplish that goal.”

Roethlisberger, who turned 39 earlier this week, threw 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season, his first after major elbow surgery following a season-ending injury in Week 2 of the 2019 season.

He attempted 608 passes in the 2020 season — tied for the second-highest total of his career — and maintained throughout the season that his elbow felt fine and wasn’t affecting his on-field performance, though dismal halves versus the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and even the Cleveland Browns suggested otherwise at times.

Still, Roethlisberger showed an ability to stretch the field late in the season, upping his average air yards per attempt from 6 yards to 8 yards for the final three games.

After the season, Roethlisberger stated he hoped the Steelers would want him back if he opted to return rather than retiring.

Team president Art Rooney II and Colbert made it clear in offseason interviews and statements that Roethlisberger could not come back on his current contract but that they wanted the quarterback to return for one more season — as long as they could free up money to field a competitive team around the quarterback.

With Roethlisberger’s deal, the Steelers are close to cap-compliant for the beginning of the new league year on March 17. Although Roethlisberger’s restructured contract reduces his cap hit, the team still faces a difficult task in re-signing any of its 19 unrestricted free agents, including receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and linebacker Bud Dupree.

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Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh won’t say if Lamar Jackson will play vs. Dallas Cowboys

Starting quarterback and reigning NFL regular-season Most Valuable Player Lamar Jackson was one of a handful of Baltimore Ravens players who tested positive for COVID-19 amid the club’s worrisome coronavirus outbreak that caused its showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be postponed on three occasions.

Baltimore was without Jackson during Wednesday’s 19-14 defeat at Heinz Field, and head coach John Harbaugh refused to say if the signal-caller will be available for the upcoming contest versus the Dallas Cowboys that was rearranged to Tuesday night.

“I think I already answered that,” Harbaugh replied when asked about Jackson’s status during Thursday’s media availability, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN. “When the doctors clear them for practice, that’s when we’ll have them,” he added about the 17 Baltimore players now on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III filled in for Jackson versus Pittsburgh but suffered a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter that knocked him out of the game. Griffin rushed for a team-high 68 yards but completed just seven of 12 passes for 33 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

Trace McSorley substituted Griffin and completed two of his six attempts, one of which was a 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquise Brown.

Harbaugh did say that punter Sam Koch won’t be needed as an emergency QB, which suggests two of the three players at the position will be ready to go by Tuesday evening.

The Ravens players had a day off and will return Friday for their first full practice since Nov. 20, a span of two weeks. The outbreak in Baltimore limited the team to a couple of walk-throughs. The Ravens had no positive tests Wednesday, which ended a stretch of 10 consecutive days with at least one player testing positive.

“We need to have some good practices and get our football sea legs under us so we can go out there and perform the way we want to,” Harbaugh said. The Ravens have lost three consecutive games to fall to 6-5.

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Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree believed to have torn left ACL

The Pittsburgh Steelers are feared to have lost another key piece of their vaunted defense.

Outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who appeared to injure his left knee on a noncontact play in the second half of Wednesday’s 19-14 triumph over the Baltimore Ravens, is assumed to have suffered a torn ACL, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, confirming an NFL Network report. The severity of the injury is expected to be confirmed with further testing Thursday.

Dupree, 27, limped off the field following the injury and did not return to the match. “I think it was very quiet, very sad, very low, just because having our fellow teammate going down, Bud, and not knowing what’s going on over there,” wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster stated, describing the Steelers’ locker room after the game.

“But that’s something that, you always pray for everybody to be safe and have a healthy game.”

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Playing on the one-year franchise tag, Dupree will be a free agent after this season.

He followed up his breakout 2019 campaign with another strong effort this season, recording eight sacks and two forced fumbles along with 26 tackles. Along with T.J. Watt, Dupree was a foundational piece of the Steelers’ pass rush.

Substituting Dupree won’t be easy. Rookie Alex Highsmith, the Steelers’ third-round draft pick, is the top candidate to fill his role.

If the injury to his ACL is confirmed, Dupree would be the second Steelers defensive starter to go down with such an injury, after middle linebacker Devin Bush tore his versus the Cleveland Browns.

The torn ACL could cost him much of next campaign after a long, grueling rehab. It will cost him millions.

I think back once more to that Dallas game in 2004. The Steelers won, 24-20, on their way to a 15-1 regular-season record. That hardly seemed to matter on that awful day.

“It’s a pyrrhic victory,” defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said at the time. This win — even though it came against the Steelers’ most hated rival — had that same stomach-turning feel.

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Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush suffers torn ACL, out for the season

Devin Bush, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting inside linebacker, suffered a torn ACL during Sunday’s victory over the Browns.

The injury will require season-ending surgery, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stated his linebacker sustained a “significant knee injury” following Pittsburgh’s 38-7 win. 

The injury occurred near the end of the first half, with the Steelers enjoying a 24-0 lead. Bush sustained the injury after hitting Browns running back D’Ernest Johnson on an incomplete pass. The Browns scored their first touchdown of the game four plays later. 

Bush, the team’s 2019 first-round pick, played every single defensive snap until his injury, and he was the team’s defensive playcaller. While Bush was in the injury tent, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walked over to Norwig, who was standing just outside.

The two talked for a moment before Roethlisberger walked back to the sideline. Bush emerged a few seconds later and walked to the locker room under his own power with less than two minutes to play in the half.

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“I just want to send my thoughts and prayers to Devin and his family and everything he’s going through right now,” Roethlisberger said after the game. “It makes you sick when a young player like that gets hurt, and I need to send my thoughts and prayers to him.”

Bush was replaced in the lineup by Robert Spillane, a three-year veteran who is the middle of his second campaign with the Steelers.

A significant contributor to Pittsburgh’s special teams units, Spillane had not seen time on defense since getting eight reps during the Steelers’ season-opening triumph over the Giants. 

The No. 10 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Bush has started in 19 of his 20 games with the Steelers. Last year, the former Michigan standout recorded 109 tackles to go with four rumble recoveries, two interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.

Through four games, Bush has recorded 21 tackles this season while helping Pittsburgh get off to its first 4-0 start since 1979.  Bush wasn’t the only Pittsburgh defender who sustained an injury on Sunday. Mike Hilton, who tallied three sacks during the Steelers’ first four games, also left Sunday’s game after suffering a shoulder injury.

Expect Tomlin to offer updates on both players during his weekly Tuesday press conference. 

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Steelers to play starters with shot at No. 1-2 seed

The Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up at least the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs by defeating the Houston Texans on Monday.

Pittsburgh will have a bye to the divisional round of the tournament and can still earn the No. 1 seed by defeating the Cleveland Browns and by having the New Jets beat the New England Patriots.

But Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he won’t let the fact the No. 1 seed in the AFC is still in play factor into his decision-making on who he will dress for the Browns game.

“I’m undecided as I stand here right now,” Tomlin said Tuesday afternoon at his weekly news conference. “It’s obvious those discussions are in play. We’ll do what’s best for us short-term and long, and we won’t look back.”

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The Steelers-Browns game kicks off at 1 p.m., the same time the Patriots-Jets game starts.

There is a scenario where Tomlin and his staff can watch the scoreboard to see if there is a chance the Patriots could be upset, but that would require Tomlin to play his starters for at least one half and perhaps more if that game is close.

“We have no control over that,” Tomlin said. “We better take care of the business in our stadium. We better focus on the challenges in our stadium and take care of the business that’s in our control. That will be my mentality as we prepare this week and as we walk into the stadium.”

Regardless of whether Tomlin decides to sit or play his stars, the Steelers have an oportunity to go undefeated in the AFC North for the first time since the 2008 season.

Tomlin said there were no significant injuries to come out of the Houston match. He did not have an update on wide receiver Antonio Brown, but he did rule him out for the Browns game.

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Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

 Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh SteelersCheck WagerWeb and find the best online betting site!!!!

When: 8:25 p.m. ET
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Point spread: Ravens favored by 3 points
Over/under: 44 point

The Pittsburgh Steelers stand to bury the Baltimore Ravens in a seemingly insurmountable 0-4 hole when the AFC North foes meet on “Thursday Night Football” at Heinz Field.

The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens in a primetime matchup of AFC North rivals Thursday night that could have a huge impact on the early-season division race. A fourth straight loss for the winless Ravens would all but eliminate them from contention. A loss by a depleted Steelers team would leave three of the four clubs with at least two losses and create significant separation in the standings for the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals.

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The Ravens are in uncharted territory entering Week 4. This is the first time in franchise history they’ve started 0-3, and they are on the verge of their first four-game losing streak since 2007. They are now staring at the near-impossible task of trying to make the playoffs after losing their first three games of the season. Just three teams have done that in the past 25 years, and none since the 1998 Bills.

The Ravens are currently seventh in the NFL with 84.0 rushing yards allowed per game, and fourth at 3.4 yards let up per attempt, with linebackers Daryl Smith, Courtney Upshaw, and CJ Mosley leading the way, and rookie Za’Darius Smith also seeing the field. But Baltimore will miss starting defensive end Chris Canty (calf) for the second straight game.

The Steelers are 2-1, but they also face a tough task in trying to reach the postseason without franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. Mike Vick takes over as the starting quarterback, and although he won’t be able to match Big Ben’s gaudy passing stats, he’s a seasoned veteran who should be capable of taking advantage of the incredible talent around him on offense.

Unlike wounded Baltimore, the Steelers defense has exceeded expectations. Pittsburgh’s allowing 17.3 points per game and the pass rush is tied for fifth in the league with 9.0 sacks. Second-year defensive end Stephon Tuitt and rookie linebacker Bud Dupree are responsible for 2.5.

But Pittsburgh could be stretched too thin up front this week. Defensive tackle Daniel McCullers (knee) and second-year linebacker Ryan Shazier (shoulder) have both been ruled out against the Ravens, while cornerback Cortez Allen (knee) is listed as questionable and could miss his third straight game.

However, the Steelers haven’t really missed Allen. Corners Antwon Blake and Ross Cockrell have filled in well for Allen, with the former leading Pittsburgh with two passes defensed.

 

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