Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has told teammates that he will retire, according to a report by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Former Steelers guard Ramon Foster, now of DK Pittsburgh Sports, reported on Jan. 12 that Pouncey was “50-50” on whether he would return for the 2021 season.
The 31-year-old Pouncey just finished his 11th season in the NFL, all of which have been with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has one year remaining on his contract, which would pay him $14.475 million if he returns. Just $6.475 million of that is guaranteed. The Steelers would save $8 million in cap space if he retires.
Pouncey made the Pro Bowl for the ninth time in 2020 and has also been a five-time Associated Press All-Pro. He was also a member of the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team, largely giving him Hall of Fame credentials.\
Steelers, Giant Eagle Teaming Up for Mass Vaccination Site at Heinz Field
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Giant Eagle are joining forces to establish a mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Heinz Field.
Set to begin on Tuesday, March 2, the initiative will run the length of the week, with plans to have additional vaccination days throughout the month.
“The Steelers have had a long relationship, a long partnership, with Giant Eagle going back decades now,” Team President Art Rooney II told Steelers.com, “and so when Giant Eagle Pharmacy wanted to set up a vaccination site at Heinz Field we thought it was a great idea. A great opportunity to really help them serve the community, and so we’re excited it’s going to happen.”
Giant Eagle pharmacists will be administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Heinz Field. With the vaccine requiring two separate doses of the shot spaces 21 day apart, recipients will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment.
“They need a large venue,” Rooney said. “They’re going to try to vaccinate thousands of people over the course of a week, and so they need a large venue to accomplish that. Obviously, ample parking is available (around Heinz Field) at this time of the year, so it really is a perfect fit for Heinz Field and Giant Eagle at this point.”
Vaccinations at Heinz Field will be by appointment only and administered in the PNC Champions Club. To check eligibility and make an appointment, those interested can do both at GiantEagle.com.
“We’re going through unusual times, to say the least,” Rooney said, “and so being able to help with probably the most important thing we’re doing right now in this community, which is trying to get everybody vaccinated, trying to get everybody that kind of protection, I really can’t think of anything more important that we could be doing right now than to partner with Giant Eagle to do this.”
According to Rooney, Heinz Field will be utilized as long as Giant Eagle’s vaccine supplies last.
“It all depends on the supply to Giant Eagle. I think it’s going to go on for weeks,” Rooney said. “That’s what they have in mind here, but all we’ve been told so far is next week Heinz Field will be scheduled for the whole week and then we expect there will be additional weeks, but we don’t have those specifics yet.”
After a 2020 season largely without fans, the Steelers and Giant Eagle are doing their part to help ensure Heinz Field is packed in the fall of 2021.
Art Rooney II Provides Further Details on Ben Roethlisberger Negotiations
It is no secret the future of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has dominated the early weeks of the NFL offseason.
While Steelers president Art Rooney II shared updates on the ongoing negotiations between Roethlisberger and the club in a statement Wednesday, he provided further details to Steelers.com’s Bob Labriola on Friday.
“We have been in communication with Ben throughout the offseason, and we have been clear that we would like him back but we needed to do something with the contract,” Rooney told Steelers.com. “We’re getting to that point now where the time is right. We have a better idea of where the salary cap is going to be, which is an important component of the decision. It just felt like it was time to sit down with Ben and have a good discussion, make sure the lines of communication are open. We had a good, productive discussion, and I assured him we would like to have him back, and he assured me that he wants to come back and play. And so we both left it that we know we have to try to get something worked out on the contract.”
The new league year officially begins on Wednesday, March 17. Not only is that the start of free agency and the deadline for salary cap compliance, but it is also the cutoff for Roethlisberger contract negotiations.
“Hopefully we’ll work something out before that,” said Rooney, “But certainly if you want to say there’s a hard deadline, March 17 would be it.”
Rooney also reaffirmed the discussions regarding Roethlisberger’s future have nothing to with the quarterback’s performance, but more his hefty $41 million cap hit.
“We think Ben played at a high level last year,” Rooney said. “We won our division and set a franchise record for most consecutive wins to open a season, so there was a lot of good stuff. Ben was as disappointed as anybody the way it ended. That last game is just hard to swallow, and I think in part Ben wants to come back and leave on a high note. We’re still confident he has the ability to do that. His arm, I would say, is as strong or almost as strong as ever, so I think he’s certainly capable of getting the job done. Part of the concern is putting a (competitive) team around him, and we had a good discussion about that. We know there are still a lot of pieces to the puzzle that still have to fall into place this season, and we’re hard at work trying to make that happen.”
Roethlisberger’s $41 million cap hit is the largest in the league entering the 2021 season, which poses a significant challenge for Pittsburgh. He could forgo up to nearly $19 million of his salary for this upcoming season to provide the team some much-needed flexibility.
Roethlisberger finished with a successful season statistically in 2020, but was tormented by inconsistency, as the Steelers dropped five of six following an 11-0 start.
Roethlisberger is set to turn 39 years old on March 2. The two-time Super Bowl champion passed for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns with ten interceptions, but saw his play drop over the latter half of the year.
Devin Bush Shares Update on ACL Recovery
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush joined the Steelers Nation Unite Huddle with fans on Thursday and provided an update on his recovery from the knee injury that prematurely ended his 2020 season.
“Rehab is going good. I am on schedule,” said Bush. “I am feeling stronger week by week. I am trying to get ready physically for next year, especially for camp. I am just staying positive about things and doing everything I can possible to make myself one of the best players next year.”
While spending the better half of last season injured proved a challenge for Bush, those emotions have only added to his motivation throughout the recovery process.
“Missing the time with your teammates, coaches and everybody in the building,” said Bush. “It’s hard to be alone and watch football every Sunday, not able to participate. A lot of that motivation comes from that. As a competitor, motivation of coming back and being better is another motivator. Just sitting there and being able to take everything in and put that energy somewhere else. You have to put that inside your rehab and things you want to get accomplished next year.”
The time away also provided Bush a new perspective of the game.
“Wherever I was at the time, it allowed me to watch the game as a fan,” said Bush. “It allowed me to see the whole picture rather than be on the defensive side of the ball.”
Bush suffered the knee injury in the Steelers’ Week 6 win over the Cleveland Browns. Prior to the injury, Bush had 26 total tackles, a sack and three passes defended.
Selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Michigan, Bush was named to the league’s All-Rookie team. He has tallied 135 combined tackles, nine tackles-for-loss, two interceptions, two sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.