The Pittsburgh Steelers were dealt a heavy blow to their 2022 defense when Stephon Tuitt announced his retirement this past week. The immediate aftermath of this decision was one of confusion, anger and a finality everyone has been waiting for since the start of 2021.
Tuitt’s long awaited decision has been made, even though it wasn’t the decision everyone wanted. Fans wanted Cam Heyward and Tuitt to be reunited, and to wreak havoc on opposing offenses for 2022, and hopefully beyond.
That won’t happen, and when you listen to the players’ comments after Tuitt’s announcement, you could feel a similar sentiment with the fans too. They all felt hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Got the short end of the stick.
While those feelings are natural, and warranted, it is important to note not everything was bad after Tuitt announced his retirement. Sure, everyone hopes Tuitt’s mental health is in order and he is prepared to move onto his life’s work, whatever that is. But from a football standpoint, not everything was bad with the news this week.
Let’s go over some aspects of Tuitt’s retirement which could be deemed positives:
A decision was made
If you were like me, you were happy there was closure with the situation which has lingered way too long. No one faulted Tuitt for taking his time getting himself back both physically and mentally, but most fans just wanted to know. Is he coming back or not? The answer now is he isn’t, and the team can move on.
Salary cap help (June 1)
On top of the decision finally being made, the fact Tuitt made his announcement on June 1st shouldn’t be viewed as some strange stroke of luck. The Steelers likely found out from Tuitt he was thinking about stepping away from the game, and Omar Khan likely told Tuitt it would do the Steelers a great bit of help if he could wait and retire on June 1st. He did the team a solid by cooperating with this request.
Salary cap space
Being a June 1st retirement, Tuitt saved the Steelers roughly $8 million dollars after displacement. Take that $8 million and add it to their existing cap space and they now have roughly $20 million dollars of free money in 2022. Whether the team utilizes this to obtain a new player(s) has yet to be seen, but Tuitt waiting till June 1st has given the team financial flexibility they didn’t have just a week ago.
Didn’t pull a Vince Williams
Everyone loves Vince Williams. He was a prototypical Steeler in every way, but most forget how he did the team dirty in 2021. On the eve of training camp Williams announced his retirement, and the team was left scrambling. It became clear in the preseason Robert Spillane wasn’t the guy on the inside, and the team was forced to make a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars to obtain Joe Schobert. I think it’s safe to say the Steelers wouldn’t have made this move if Williams would have played last season. If Tuitt would have duplicated this retirement plan, the team could be scrambling for a second straight year. Instead, they now have the time between minicamp and training camp to decide how they want to approach replacing Tuitt.
Again, I’m not suggesting Tuitt moving on to his life’s work is anything negative. His decision was his decision to make, and he did what he felt was best for his family and his overall well-being. On the football side of things, it is easy to feel as if the fans, and his teammates, were wronged. It happens, but not everything about the situation is a negative.
Sure, it sucks. That was my knee jerk reaction when I saw the news break last week. But with time can come a level-headed approach to the entire situation. When the emotions calmed, I was able to see how Tuitt retiring was not what anyone wanted, but the aforementioned facets of the situation make the blow easier to handle.
I talked about this more on my Friday Let’s Ride podcast. You can hear it in the player below where I dive into this topic, and much more!
(Note: The Letter From the Editor feature runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)