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Steelers RT Chukwuma Okorafor Qualifies for Performance Bonus in 2021

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Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor has qualified for a pay raise in 2021 based on his snap count this season.

Okorafor’s bonus stems from the league’s Proven Performance Escalator, a portion of the CBA that rewards former late-round picks who have reached a particular snap count benchmark considered above their original draft position.

Playing over 35% of the Steelers’ offensive plays over his first three seasons, Okorafor, a former third round selection, has been deemed an overachiever by the CBA’s standards, and is now eligible for the pay raise.

Okorafor started every game this season except for the opener, stepping in for Zach Banner, who was lost for the year to a knee injury in Week 1. He played 94.1% of all offensive snaps during the 2020 season.

Okorafor was scheduled to make $920,000 in 2021. Subtracting that total from the original-round tender for restricted free agents of $2.24 million, Okorafor can now expect a $1.32 million raise next season. Unfortunately for the Steelers, that increase will count against their razor-thin salary cap.

According to Pro Football Focus, Okorafor allowed just three sacks, five quarterback hits and 21 hurries this season.

Okorafor was the only member of the Steelers’ 2018 draft class to qualify for the Proven Performance Escalator, as quarterback Mason Rudolph, wide receiver James Washington, linebacker Marcus Allen and running back Jaylen Samuels all failed to reach the snap count threshold.

Pro Football Hall of Fame

HOF Voter Ed Bouchette Makes Hall of Fame Case for Former Steelers Guard Alan Faneca

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As the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee met Tuesday, The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette made the case for former Pittsburgh Steelers guard Alan Faneca.

Bouchette listed Faneca’s career accomplishments, of which there are many, and compared him to others league-wide and at his positions with similar credentials, demonstrating how it is long past time the six-time All-Pro received the football’s highest honor.

Selected in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft out of LSU, Faneca spent the first decade of his career in Pittsburgh before closing with the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals.

Faneca missed just two games over his 13-year career, was selected to nine-straight Pro Bowls and named First-Team All-Pro six times. He was also named to the All-Decade team of the 2000s and won Super Bowl XL with the Steelers.

The Class of 2021 will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 8, 2021.

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Pro Football Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame Selector Bill Polian Makes Case for Former Steelers Scout Bill Nunn

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With the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee meeting Tuesday to determine the next group legends to be enshrined, Hall of Famer and former general manager Bill Polian made the case for Pittsburgh Steelers scout Bill Nunn.

In his presentation, Polian especially highlighted Nunn’s impact as a revolutionary in the scouting process targeting historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Nunn’s vital scouting these underrepresented players and institutions proved vital in crafting the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s.

“He was the authority, while working for the (Pittsburgh) Courier, on HBCU football. He might well have been termed the Scout-in-Chief of HBCU football,” Polian said. “Bill Nunn helped create one of the greatest teams of all time.”

A Pittsburgh native, Nunn attended Westinghouse high school and West Virginia State College before embarking on a journalism career with the Pittsburgh Courier. Eventually becoming the managing editor of the paper, Nunn gained notoriety for his black college All-American teams, highlighting relatively unknown players at HBCUs.

Nunn’s expertise translated to his career with the Steelers, where his scouting led the organization to draft a number of legends form HBCUs, including L.C. Greenwood, Mel Blount, Ernie Holmes, John Stallworth and Donnie Shell.

Nunn would become the first Steelers nominated as a contributor if selected. Executives Art and Dan Rooney were inducted prior to the designation in 1964 and 2000, respectively.

The Class of 2021 will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 8, 2021.

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Steelers

Steelers WR Chase Claypool Named to PFWA NFL All-Rookie Team

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Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool has been named to the 2020 Pro Football Writers of America NFL All-Rookie team.

Claypool was honored along with Minnesota Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson as the top 2020 rookies at the position. 

The Notre Dame product caught 62 passes for 873 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He also rushed for a pair of scores, tying Louis Lipps for the most touchdowns scored by a Steelers rookie with 11 total.

Claypool was the 11th wide receiver selected in the 2020 NFL Draft when the Steelers took him with the 49th overall selection. 

Claypool previously won the Joe Greene Great Performance Award as the Steelers’ rookie of the year.

This is the second straight season the Steelers had a PFWA All-Rookie member, as linebacker Devin Bush was a part of the 2019 squad. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and linebacker T.J. Watt were awarded in 2017.

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