I couldn’t believe what I just read.
When BTSC deputy editor Michael Beck shared the breaking news with our staff that Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network was reporting Tyson Alualu was actually returning to the Steelers, I began searching frantically to check the source. After all, there are plenty of troll Twitter accounts who like to trick people into believing something crazy. And this seemed crazy.
But it was legit.
10 days after the start of the 2021 NFL league year, Alualu decided not to sign his two-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but instead he’s coming back to Pittsburgh on a two-year deal. I’ve seen players agree to a deal during the legal tampering period and have a change of heart about a day later, but this was a week and a half. There were very few Steelers fans who even knew Alualu hadn’t signed his contract because of a positive COVID-19 test. I know I didn’t. And out of nowhere, Tyson is back and the defense got a nice boost in personnel.
I don’t know why, but this makes me feel so much better about the Steelers free agency period. Yes, the Steelers have still lost several other key pieces to their defense, but in Alualu’s case, it seemed like the “cost of replacement” was much higher than anyone else the Steelers lost. Now to have Tyson back, it’s enlightening to the Steelers fan’s soul.
After posing the question in an article on Saturday about if the Steelers roster was improved for 2021, I went through each position group looking to see if there was an argument that could be made to if they were improving. With the loss of Alualu, defensive line was definitely not moving in the right direction. But now that all seven players from the Steelers 53-man roster on the defensive line are back for 2021, this particular position group can go back to a huge area of strength.
Of course, if the shoe would have been on the other foot for the Steelers, it would have been frustrating to believe you had a player added to your team for well over a week only to find out he hadn’t signed his contract and isn’t coming after all. But this is the Pittsburgh Steelers were talking about, and there’s something special about this team that has high-character players realizing it’s where they need to be.
Who would have thought that news coming at 8 PM on a Saturday night a week and a half after the new league year started would completely change my outlook on the 2021 Steelers? Perhaps I’m putting too much faith in one player, but to me the whole situation seems bigger than just Tyson Alualu. A key player is back. Another potential free agent realized they wanted to be a part of this team even if it wasn’t the biggest contract they were offered.
Yes, it’s just a nose tackle, but right now it feels like so much more.
Now let’s keep our eyes peeled for the picture of Alualu putting pen to paper just to make sure there are no other changes.