Devin Bush

AFC Notes: Bush, Granson, Andrews

Expectations were sky-high for Devin Bush when the Steelers traded up to select him in the first round of the 2019 draft. Things haven’t gone according to plan in the past two years in particular, leading to the team’s decision to decline his fifth-year option earlier this offseason.

That has led many to believe 2022 will be his final year in Pittsburgh. While the upcoming season could prove to be a critical turning point, he will still have a starting role in the middle of the team’s defense. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic notes that Bush will be a member of the first-team unit alongside free agent addition Myles Jack (subscription required).

The Michigan alum is no stranger to significant playing time, having started all but one of his games in the NFL. He will look to rebound from a disappointing 2021 campaign, where he made 41 solo tackles and allowed a passer rating of nearly 103 in coverage. Behind him and Jack at the position, the Steelers have veteran Robert Spillane and 2021 fourth-rounder Buddy Johnson available in the event of injuries or poor play.

Here are a couple of other notes from the AFC:

  • Facing a serious cap crunch, the Patriots re-worked the contract of center David Andrews last month. The move created some breathing room for the 2022 season, dropping his cap number from $6.375MM down to $4.275MM. In a breakdown of the other changes brought on by the restructure, ESPN’s Mike Reiss notes (on Twitter) that his cap figure in 2023 and 2024 will jump from $5.875MM to $7.175MM and $7.425MM, respectively. The 30-year-old is coming off of another solid season in 2021, earning a PFF grade of 78, and figures to reman an anchor on New England’s o-line for the foreseeable future.
  • The Colts will have a new player atop the tight end depth chart this season. The retirement of Jack Doyle has left Mo Alie-Cox as the No. 1 at the position in Indianapolis. While the 28-year-old is likely to eclipse his single-season career high of 394 yards with the increased workload, another incumbent could see an uptick on usage. 2021 fourth-rounder Kylen Granson “should be given every opportunity” to become a full-time contributor in the team’s offense, writes FOX59’s Mike Chappell. He made just 11 catches as a rookie, and will be competing with Alie-Cox and rookies Jelani Woods and Drew Ogletree for targets. Still, he could take on a notable receiving role in particular within Frank Reich‘s TE-friendly scheme with a strong training camp.

Latest On LB Devin Bush’s Future With Steelers

Steelers linebacker Devin Bush is heading into the final year of his contract, and it sounds like the 2022 campaign could be his final season in Pittsburgh. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes that the 2022 campaign “is likely Bush’s last year with the Steelers.”

The writing was on the wall when the Steelers refused to pick up the former first-round pick’s fifth-year option. After tearing his ACL during the 2020 season, Bush struggled following his return to the field in 2021. While the linebacker managed to start each of his 14 games, he finished with only 70 tackles…a far cry from the 109 he compiled in 16 games as a rookie. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus ranked Bush 82nd among 87 qualifying linebackers, with the site being particularly harsh when it came to his rush defense.

Of course, this wasn’t the intended outcome. The Steelers traded up during the 2019 draft to select Bush with the 10th overall pick, and the expectation was that the Michigan product would be a mainstay on Pittsburgh’s defense for the foreseeable future. His rookie campaign saw him earn All-Rookie honors, but the 2020 ACL tear has derailed his career. A report from last December indicated that while Bush was well liked within the locker room, the organization had grown frustrated with his lack of development.

“I think Devin Bush will be a better player in 2022,” Colbert said earlier this offseason.

If the Steelers had picked up Bush’s fifth-year option, the organization would have been on the hook for $10.5MM. Following a dreadful 2021 campaign, it’s not a surprise that the Steelers didn’t want to commit that kind of future money to the linebacker, and barring a remarkable turnaround in 2022, it’s unlikely Bush will command that kind of money once he hits unrestricted free agency next offseason.

2023 NFL Fifth-Year Option Results

Monday marked the deadline for NFL clubs to officially pick up their options on 2019 first-rounders. Fifth-year option seasons are no longer just guaranteed for injury — they’re now fully guaranteed, which makes these decisions a little tougher for teams.

Nineteen players had their options exercised, a tick up from 14 last year. Here’s the full rundown:

1. QB Kyler Murray, Cardinals – Exercised ($29.7MM)
2. DE Nick Bosa, 49ers: Exercised ($17.9MM)
3. DE Quinnen Williams, Jets: Exercised ($11.5MM)
4. DE Clelin Ferrell, Raiders: Declined ($11.5MM)
5. LB Devin White, Buccaneers: Exercised ($11.7MM)
6. QB Daniel Jones, Giants: Declined ($22.4MM)
7. DE Josh Allen, Jaguars: Exercised ($11.5MM)
8. TE T.J. Hockenson, Lions: Exercised ($9.4MM)
9. DT Ed Oliver, Bills: Exercised ($10.8MM)
10. LB Devin Bush, Steelers: Declined ($10.9MM)
11. OT Jonah Williams, Bengals: Exercised ($12.6MM)
12. LB Rashan Gary, Packers: Exercised ($10.9MM)
13. DT Christian Wilkins, Dolphins: Exercised ($10.8MM)
14. G Chris Lindstrom, Falcons: Exercised ($13.2MM)
15. QB Dwayne Haskins:
16. DE Brian Burns, Panthers: Exercised ($16MM)
17. DT Dexter Lawrence, Giants: Exercised ($10.8MM)
18. C Garrett Bradbury, Vikings: Declined ($13.2MM)
19. DT Jeffery Simmons, Titans: Exercised ($10.8MM)
20. TE Noah Fant, Seahawks: Exercised ($6.9MM; originally drafted by Broncos)
21. S Darnell Savage, Packers: Exercised ($7.9MM)
22. OT Andre Dillard, Eagles: Declined ($12.6MM)
23. OT Tytus Howard, Texans: Exercised ($13.2MM)
24. RB Josh Jacobs, Raiders: Declined ($8MM)
25. WR Marquise Brown, Cardinals: ($13.4MM; originally drafted by Ravens)
26. DE Montez Sweat, Commanders: Exercised ($11.5MM)
27. S Johnathan Abram, Raiders: Declined ($7.9MM)
28. DE Jerry Tillery, Chargers: Declined ($11.5MM)
29. DE L.J. Collier, Seahawks: Declined ($11.5MM)
30. CB Deandre Baker — N/A (released by Giants)
31. OT Kaleb McGary, Falcons: Declined ($13.2MM)
32. WR N’Keal Harry, Patriots: Declined ($12.4MM)

Steelers Notes: Colbert, QB Search, More

When speaking to the media on Monday, outgoing Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert provided an update on a number of topics, beginning with his personal plans. As Gerry Dulac of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (via Twitter), he is unlikely to completely retire once his successor is named. 

[Related: Steelers GM Kevin Colbert To Step Down]

Specifically, Colbert said, “I may or may not have a role” with the franchise after his contract expires following the draft. Dulac adds that the 65-year-old made his intention to step down clear last May, noting that “it was time from a personal standpoint, it was time from a professional standpoint”. ESPN’s Brooke Pryor tweets that Colbert is helping with the search for the new GM, which is primarily taking place before March 1st because teams can block candidates from interviewing after that date.

With regards to the top offseason priority in Pittsburgh – the search for a new starting quarterback – Colbert repeated the team’s public support of Mason Rudolph. “We have confidence that Mason, if we started today, would be our starter and we’re excited to see where that can go”, he said (Twitter link via Dulac). Rudolph holds a record of 5-4-1 as a starter after being a third round pick in 2018.

Here are some other Steelers notes, including more on the QB situation:

  • Colbert made it clear that the team, as expected, will place an RFA tender on Dwayne Haskins. That will leave the Steelers with two incumbent signal callers, but Colbert said “we know we’re going to add to the position” in the offseason, adding that “we will go to camp with four” (Twitter link via Pryor). He didn’t specify what avenue the team could take to acquire other options, but they are expected to be active in any regard.
  • Dulac tweets that Colbert acknowledged the unusually flexible position the team is in with regards to cap space, though he stressed that they traditionally don’t spend as much as other teams on the open market. He did, however, seem to “leave [the] door open to spend” this March.
  • Pryor reports that the Steelers are open to retaining defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt for next year, the final one on his current contract (Twitter link). The 28-year-old missed the entire 2021 season with a knee injury, and is scheduled to have a cap hit of just under $14MM next year. He has 34.5 sacks in seven seasons, all with the Steelers.
  • Finally, Pryor tweets that Pittsburgh has yet to decide whether or not they will pick up linebacker Devin Bush‘s fifth year option. “I think Devin Bush will be a better player in 2022”, Colbert said, referring to his recovery from a torn ACL. It had previously been reported that the team wasn’t picking up the option, but doing so would leave a significant hole in the middle of the team’s defense.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/4/22-1/5/22

Here are Tuesday and Wednesday’s activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Jared Cook, LB Damon Lloyd (remains on IR)

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/22/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list today. In some instances (including Christian McCaffrey and Travis Etienne), players activated from the list remain on IR:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Placed on list: T Le’Raven Clark

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Steelers Won’t Pick Up Fifth-Year Option On LB Devin Bush

The Steelers will not pick up the fifth-year option on linebacker Devin Bush, per Ed Bouchette of The Athletic. That means that Bush will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2023.

The normally conservative Steelers made a bold move in the 2019 draft, trading their No. 20 and No. 52 overall selections that year, along with a 2020 third-rounder, to the Broncos in order to acquire Denver’s No. 10 overall pick. Pittsburgh used that choice on Bush, and it had every reason to believe the Michigan product would excel in the middle of its defense for years to come.

Unfortunately, things have not worked out as hoped. Bush started 15 games as a rookie and racked up 109 combined tackles, two picks, and a sack, but he suffered a torn ACL in Week 5 of the 2020 season and has struggled to find his footing this year. Even before the 2021 campaign got underway, it was announced that trade acquisition Joe Schobert would take over the role of defensive signal-caller, as the Steelers wanted Bush to focus on his recovery.

And while Bush has played all but one game this year, his performance has left much to be desired. Pro Football Focus’ metrics consider Bush the fourth-worst linebacker in football among players with enough snaps to qualify, and that ranking generally jibes with the eye test. Bush has struggled in coverage and against the run, and he has not made any progress as a pass rusher. As Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, Bush has stayed upbeat and is well-liked, but the organization is becoming increasingly frustrated with his lack of development.

It is certainly possible that, by having a fully healthy offseason and putting his ACL tear further in the rearview mirror, Bush could start to play up to his potential in 2022 and earn a second contract with Pittsburgh. But for now, it stands to reason that the Steelers would not want to commit to a fully-guaranteed $10.5MM salary for 2023 for a player that presently looks more like a liability than an asset.

AFC North Notes: Lamar, Schobert, Browns

Even after Josh Allen‘s Bills extension, the Ravens and Lamar Jackson are continuing their methodical approach to what will be the biggest contract in franchise history. Although Jackson expressed happiness for Allen landing a $43MM-per-year deal with a record guarantee, the fourth-year Baltimore quarterback said his extension will come in due time. John Harbaugh, who has said Jackson will be extended either this year or next, added (via Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed) that Allen’s deal does not change anything regarding the Ravens’ negotiations with Jackson. Allen’s deal almost certainly will affect Jackson’s, potentially setting up the 2019 MVP to command a Patrick Mahomes-level salary without the 10-year commitment.

The quarterback market catching up to Mahomes’ $45MM AAV so quickly may make things interesting in Kansas City in the coming years, with the 2018 MVP signed through 2031. The bulk of the recent big-ticket quarterback contracts have come before passers’ fourth seasons, so time is running short for the Ravens and their agentless QB to agree on a deal that will allow Jackson to make more than $1.78MM this year.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Shortly after trading for Joe Schobert, the Steelers have restructured the veteran linebacker’s contract. Schobert’s 2021 cap number has dropped to $1.74MM, with Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeting the move will create nearly $2MM in cap space. The Steelers frequently restructure contracts to create cap space, and the team has a rather critical contract to complete soon. T.J. Watt has gone through with a partial hold-in, staying out of team drills until he lands an extension. The Steelers are not believed to be eyeing a Minkah Fitzpatrick re-up until next year, with the safety under contract through the 2022 season, putting a Watt deal center stage. Watt’s contract is up after 2021.
  • The Steelers are preparing Schobert for a big workload. The former Browns linebacker is slated to start, be Pittsburgh’s dime ‘backer and wear the green dot that signifies he will communicate with coaches pre-snap, Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com tweets. Quite the plan for a player who has been with the team less than a week, but Schobert played 99% of his team’s defensive snaps in each of the past two seasons. Pittsburgh’s designs for Schobert will mark a transition for Devin Bush, but Steelers DC Keith Butler said (via The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette; subscription required) the team wants the former first-round pick to focus solely on returning to full strength. Bush is coming back after suffering an ACL tear last October.
  • Grant Delpit‘s comeback continues to hit snags. Completing a return from the Achilles rupture he suffered last August, Delpit injured his hamstring after just nine practice snaps. The Browns safety has since aggravated that hamstring issue and will miss more time, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes. Delpit was already iffy for Cleveland’s Week 1 game in Kansas City. The LSU product missing the start of the Browns’ season now looks likelier.

Steelers LB Devin Bush Expected To Be Cleared For Training Camp

The Steelers lost one middle linebacker today, but the team got good news on another. According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Twitter), linebacker Devin Bush is recovering nicely from his torn ACL and is expected “to be cleared to fully practice right away.”

[RELATED: Steelers LB Vince Williams Announces Retirement]

The former first-round pick tore his ACL in October, limiting him to only five games last season. He had appeared in every Steelers defensive snap up to that point of the season, collecting 26 tackles and one sack. That performance followed a rookie campaign where Bush collected 109 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, and four fumble recoveries, leading to him earning PFWA All-Rookie Team honors.

Bush made a cameo at OTAs, and the hope was that he’d be fully healthy by Week 1. It sounds like he’ll be fully healthy much earlier than that, allowing the 23-year-old to truly prepare for the upcoming campaign. Bush will regain his starting gig in 2021, and he’ll presumably start alongside Robert Spillane.

The Steelers learned earlier today that veteran linebacker Vince Williams was calling it a career. The 31-year-old was expected to play a significant role behind both Bush and Spillane.

Steelers’ Devin Bush Has Torn ACL

The Steelers picked up a dominant 38-7 win over the Browns on Sunday, but they didn’t escape the rivalry game unscathed. Linebacker Devin Bush indeed tore his ACL and will be done for the season, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Bush started 15 games as a rookie last year and every game so far this season, so it’s a huge loss. In fact, the tenth overall pick of last year’s draft had played every snap this season before going down. Pittsburgh’s defense has been the driving force behind their perfect 5-0 start, and it won’t be easy to replace him. Robert Spillane, a 2018 UDFA who plays almost entirely on special teams, filled in after Bush got hurt.

The Steelers were allowing only 3.3 yards per carry, the second best figure in the league, entering Sunday. They completely shutdown Kareem Hunt and Cleveland’s vaunted rushing attack, but slowing down opponent ground games will be a lot more difficult without Bush in the middle of the field.