The rumors have swirled for some time and today they became fact. Stephon Tuitt has played his final game in the NFL. He announced his retirement yesterday from the Steelers at the age of 29.
Statement from Stephon Tuitt: pic.twitter.com/46iOoOZZZW
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 1, 2022
As we saw last season, Tuitt was not easy to replace along the defensive line. His absence along with the season-ending injury to Tyson Alualu left the Steelers’ D with massive holes which opposing offenses ran through. With Alualu back, it was hoped that Tuitt would join him. This is not to be.
Tuitt was a guy drafted in the second round out of Notre Dame but many had him graded as a first round prospect. When healthy and available, he often played that way. While injuries limited him to just one full season since 2014, his presence always made a significant difference to the success of the defense.
Tuitt did not take the field in 2021. He suffered the tragic loss of his brother in a hit-and-run accident and then battled a knee problem that just never got quite right. I learned after the season that he had returned to Notre Dame to finish his degree, sold his home in Pittsburgh and was currently living in Indiana. Despite all of this, we held out hope that he would be back.
I believe it’s fair to say the Steelers probably thought he would be back as well. While they drafted Demarvin Leal in the third round, one wonders if their strategy would have been any different had they known Tuitt would not be back. Not only does pressure to play well immediately fall on Leal but on second year guy Isaiahh Loudermilk will be feeling it too. In order for the Steelers’ defense to thrive, the D-Line must improve their play from 2021.
I wish Stephon Tuitt the best of luck as he moves on with his life’s work. I will often wonder what might have been but I will no longer.