The NFL can be a cruel business. One season a player can be on top of the world, and the next they could be searching for a team to take a chance on them just to get another opportunity. Whether it be injury or declining play, the engine that is the National Football League churns on regardless of circumstances for individual players.
While there are plenty of examples of players who saw their career path change due to injury, still having the opportunity to right the ship is the priority for most players when they are in the situation. For Steelers linebacker Devin Bush, getting his NFL career back on track is all the motivation he needs.
After the Pittsburgh Steelers traded up in the 2019 NFL draft to select Devin Bush at the 10th overall pick, it appeared the Steelers inside linebacking corps was making a turn in the right direction. After a promising rookie season, Devin Bush only made it five games into his sophomore campaign before he was lost for the year with a devastating knee injury. Coming back from injury is not always an easy process, but Bush returned to the Steelers in 2021 although many could see he was not quite the same player before the ACL injury.
After a challenging 2021 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers declined to pick up the fifth-year option on Bush, a decision which had to be made in early May. With a price tag of $10.9 million for 2023, the Steelers likely wanted to see if Bush could make even more improvements another year removed from his injury before they made such a hefty investment.
While Devin Bush could easily play the 2022 season with a chip on his shoulder after not getting another year of a guaranteed contract, the Steelers inside linebacker does not appear to be drawing motivation from his contract status. When speaking to reporters following Wednesday’s OTA practice, Devin Bush claimed to be motivated by his play in 2021 and not his contract situation. This per Will Graves of the Associated Press:
Devin Bush says he spent two months during the off-season doing things like running on the beach, which he couldn’t do a year ago. Said he understands team decision to not pick up 5th year option but says he has nothing to prove. Was already motivated enough by last year.— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) June 1, 2022
With Graves report of Devin Bush performing tasks this offseason which were off the table one year prior, such as running on the beach, an improved attitude, mindset, and knee, could all be factors in Bush finding his way back into the hearts of Steelers’ Nation. With the addition of inside linebacker Myles Jack, as well as adding defensive assistant coach Brian Flores to the coaching staff, Devin Bush should have every opportunity in 2022 to get his NFL career path back in the direction it was headed prior to his 2020 injury.
Although the Steelers did not pick up Devin Bush‘s fifth year option for 2023, it does not mean that this coming season will be his last in a black and gold uniform. The Steelers did not pick up the option on safety Terrell Edmunds last year, yet Edmunds has signed a one-year deal to stay with the Steelers in 2022. So for the upcoming season, the two former first-round picks of the Steelers in 2018 and 2019 will be playing to show both theteam and the rest of the NFL what they bring to a defense.
While Devon Bush chose the right words when it comes to his motivation for the 2022 season, it ultimately doesn’t matter what drives him to be the best player he can be on the field. As long as Bush comes through and delivers for the Pittsburgh Steelers is ultimately all that will matter for both the team and the fan base.
A portion of Devin Bush’s interview can be seen below courtesy of Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.