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Steelers do not pick up the 5th-year option on Devin Bush

The Steelers linebacker is set to enter year four as his final season under cotract.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers came out of the 2022 NFL draft with a lot of business to still take care of in the coming days. After announcing the signing 10 undrafted free agents, the Steelers also have a 4 PM deadline on Monday, May 2, to make a decision on the fifth-year option for 2019 first-round draft pick Devin Bush. On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported the Steelers are not picking up Bush’s fifth-year option.

The amount of a player’s fifth-year option is based on position, playing time, and Pro Bowl selections. Starting off with players making two or more Pro Bowls, their fifth year option is the same as the franchise tag salary at their position from the previous year. If a player makes one Pro Bowl, their fifth-year option is the same amount as the transition tag. The other designation is for players who are on the field for 75% of the teams offensive or defensive snaps in two of their first three seasons, have 50% of the snaps played in each of the three seasons, or a 75% average over all three seasons. Those players are in the average of the 3rd to 20th highest paid players at that position. For those who do not meet the snap criteria, it is the average of the 3rd to the 25th highest paid players at the position.

Prior to the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), it was where a player was selected in the first round which determined their fifth-year option. Under the new CBA the exact selection in the first round is irrelevant.

Looking specifically at Devin Bush, he fell into the final category as he just missed each of the next two categories. In his rookie season, Devin Bush stated he was informed he was a Pro Bowl alternate and could be called on for the game but ultimately they had enough players at the position who chose to attend. As for the snap requirements, Devin Bush played 82% of the snaps of his rookie season but missed 11 games in 2020 and only had 27% of the snaps. Needing another season of 75% of the snaps or more, Bush only played 65.4% of the snaps in 2021 after missing Week 2 with a groin injury and Week 16 and Week 17 due to being on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

Since Bush did not meet the snap requirement, his fifth-year option was for $10.9 million instead of the $11.7 million it would have been had he played enough snaps.

As for on-field production, Bush had 109 tackles, two interceptions, one sack, and four fumble recoveries with one being for a touchdown in his rookie season where he came in third in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year voting behind Nick Bosa and Maxx Crosby. After suffering an ACL injury in Week 5 of his second season, Bush did not have nearly as much production when he returned in 2021 with only 70 tackles and one fumble recovery along with 2.0 sacks in 14 games.

Despite declining Bush’s fifth-year option, it does not mean the 2022 has to be his last season in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have the opportunity to work out a long-term deal prior to this season or could bring Bush back during the 2023 offseason. Last year, the Steelers declined the fifth year option for safety Terrell Edmunds but recently signed him to a one-year deal for 2022. With fifth-year options being much more lucrative in the new CBA, it is more common for teams to not exercise these options which was the trend, particularly for the Steelers, previous to 2021.

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