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Mike Tomlin on impending free agents: “They’re Steelers until they’re not”

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When it comes to players not currently under contract in 2020, the Steelers allow members of the 2019 team to use their facility if they choose

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

In his year end press conference on Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin addressed a variety of issues from the 2019 season as well as moving into the 2020 off-season. As is life in the NFL, the teams’ roster goes through changes from year to year. With several Steelers coming to the end of their current contracts, Coach Tomlin addressed the situation with the Pittsburgh media.

“In terms of free agency,” Tomlin stated, “we have some guys obviously up. We will do our normal business. We will do a good job of communicating. Our attitude regarding all of these guys is that they’re Steelers until they’re not.”

While it sounds nice to a degree, not every player who ended to season on the Steelers 53-man roster will be around come Week 1 of 2020. But with the off-season roster expanded to 90, players who choose to stick with the team can be given a roster spot for the off-season. The Steelers have already signed 11 players to futures contracts for the off-season as well as signing Tuzar Skipper to a two-year deal.

But not every player is certain to be around for 2020. The Steelers 2016 first round draft pick Artie Burns has reportedly cleaned out his belongings from the facility and is ready to move on.

After coming off a knee injury which kept him out for several weeks, Burns never regained his active roster spot as rookie Justin Layne excelled on special teams and was active in Burns’ place.

As for other potential free agents from the Steelers 2019 team, the Steelers are still going through the process of player interviews. For those players coach Tomlin has met with, he has made sure they understand that they are still Steelers for the time being.

“That has been the message that I have expressed to guys that I have met with this morning. And we mean that. We appreciate what these guys have put into it. We are going to work to do business with them. The business will speak for itself whether or not the sides come together, and the market does. But until then, those guys are Steelers.”

What exactly does it mean for these players who could be experiencing free agency? The biggest thing is the facilities, both for training and rehabilitation, can still be available if players choose to use them.

“This building and facility will be opened to them and things of that nature,” Tomlin explained. “We will continue to plan and communicate, not only for 2020 with those guys, but big picture things as it relates to their careers.”

While we as fans are often not privy to the things that go on within the organization, it is understood the Steelers do a good job of taking care of their players. It is part of the Steeler way. So even as some players may have to move on to further their NFL careers, hopefully their experience in Pittsburgh made them better players and people as they journey along their path.