(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
There have been rumblings that Stephon Tuitt might not return to the Steelers, and it appears that's where it's going. Mark Madden of 105.9 The X tweeted on Saturday night that he was told that Tuitt is leaning toward retirement.
Tuitt missed the entire 2021 season with a knee injury, but he was also dealing with a personal tragedy, as his brother, Richard Bartlett III, 23, was killed in a hit-and-run car accident in June.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bartlett died after he was struck by a car while trying to secure a mattress and box spring to the top of a vehicle along McGinnis Ferry Road about 9:30 p.m. on June 2. The hit-and-run remains under investigation.
Per Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, Tuitt's Pine Township home is under contract to be sold, according to real estate and property records. The home was listed for sale on Jan. 16 and placed under contract on Jan. 22.
The news that Tuitt is selling his house in the Pittsburgh area is a telling sign that he's leaning toward retirement.
Jenna Harner of WPXI spoke with Steelers president Art Rooney II on Thursday, and Harner asked Rooney if he sees Stephon Tuitt being a part of the Steelers in 2022.
"We don't know at this point where Stephon is going to be and what his ability to compete for a position here next season is going to be. We've left the door open," Rooney said.
In regard's to Rooney's recent comments about Tuitt, longtime Steelers reporter James Wexell tweeted on Thursday, "Leaving the light on, again, means long shot."
Kevin Colbert told reporters on Monday that the Steelers are “very open” to having Tuitt back for next season. Colbert said they've been in contact with Tuitt and hopes for the best as he tries to come back.
"Stephon had a tough season last year, battling through a knee injury," Colbert said. "He obviously had a personal situation he had to deal with. We just hope for the best as he tries to come back, and be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers."
The Steelers really missed Tuitt's presence on the defensive line last season, as they ranked 32nd in the league in run defense (143.8) and yards per carry (5.0). And it appears now that they'll have to select a defensive lineman high in this year's draft to replace Tuitt.
Tuitt is signed through 2022 and has a base salary of more than $9 million. His cap hit is over $13.975 after a restructuring last year pushed more of a cap hit into this season. According to overthecap.com, the Steelers will have $9,680,750 in dead cap space this year if Tuitt retires. It would also free up $4,295,000 in cap room.