Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt has announced his retirement from the NFL, he said in a statement through the team on Wednesday.
Tuitt has not played since 2020, and missed the 2021 season following the death of his brother Richard in a hit-and-run accident and a knee injury. He had not taken part in any of the team’s OTA training sessions so far this season.
“With respect to the Steelers organization, my teammates, and coaches I would like to officially announce that I have come to the decision to retire from the NFL,” Tuitt wrote. “I am thankful to have had the opportunity to represent the city of Pittsburgh for the past eight seasons, and am blessed to leave this game with my health. After the tragic loss of my brother Richard, and upon completing my degree from the University of Notre Dame, I know I am being called to move beyond the sport of football. I want to thank everyone for the love and support they have shown both on and off the field, and again want to thank The Rooney Family, Coach Tomlin, and the entire Pittsburgh organization. It was an honor and a privilege to play for this historic team. Go Steelers.”
The Steelers were never publicly clear whether or not Tuitt would play in the 2022 season, with most messages from then-general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin giving guarded optimism toward Tuitt’s status.
Linemate Cam Heyward said at the opening of OTAs last Tuesday that he was confident that Tuitt would return to the team, and be successful in doing so.
“He’ll be here, sooner or later,” Heyward said. “I’m confident in Stephon Tuitt. I think last year is last year. … I think he’s in a much better place.”
The Steelers did not attempt to replace Tuitt via free agency this offseason, but did select Texas A&M defensive end DeMarvin Leal in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
“I want to thank Stephon for all he did for the Steelers during his eight-year career in Pittsburgh,” general manager Omar Khan said in a statement. “His success both on and off the field speaks volumes for who he is as a person and a player. Stephon has always handled himself with class and maturity as he continues to be a great husband, father, son and family man in his personal life. Now that he has informed us he is retiring from football, we are all thrilled to see what he becomes as a person and professional after graduating from Notre Dame this past month. We are excited for what lies ahead in his life and will continue to support him in any way we can.”
Chris Wormley, who started for Tuitt throughout most of the 2021 season, should be expected to replace Tuitt in the starting lineup in the base defense, with nose tackle Tyson Alualu taking the first reps in sub packages alongside Heyward.
Selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame, Tuitt had the most productive season of his career in what ended up being his last NFL season in 2020. He posted career-highs in sacks (11) and tackles-for-loss (10).
In 91 career games, all with Pittsburgh, Tuitt recorded 246 tackles, 48 tackles for loss, 94 quarterback hits and 34.5 sacks. He forced six fumbles, defended 13 passes and had one career interception.