Former Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said on Monday that he is unsure if veteran defensive end Stephon Tuitt will return to the Steelers in 2022, suggesting that whatever held him out of the 2021 season went beyond his reported knee injury.
Tuitt missed the early part of the Steelers off-season program while remaining at home in Georgia to help his family deal with the death of his brother, who was killed in a hit and run vehicle pedestrian crash in June.
After returning to the team for training camp, Tuitt suffered a knee injury while attempting to get himself back into shape and did not return.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said in his end of season press conference last Tuesday that he had not yet spoken to Tuitt about his plans for the 2022 season, but Butler said there remains uncertainty within the organization as to whether Tuitt will return.
“I don’t know. I really don’t know. That’s going to have to be up to Mr. Rooney and the organization, really,” Butler said to 93.7 The Fan on Monday. “I have no idea, to be honest with you. I have no idea where he’s sitting, mentally. That’s something that’s very private and we didn’t know a lot about. We just took it for granted that the thing that happened to him and his family was very, very hard on him. He really struggled with it. I hope he comes back for the team. I don’t know if he will. We’ll see what happens.”
Fellow defense of lineman Cameron Heyward said after the Steelers postseason loss in Kansas City did he had no ill will toward Tuitt and defended his decision not to play the season.
“My brother has been hurting all year and it breaks my heart that I didn’t get to be with him,” Heyward said.
Tuitt is entering the final season of his contract and is expected to earn $9.05 million in 2022.