Steelers Cut Candidate Bemoans Job-Threatening Rule Change: ‘Hate It’

Gunner Olszewski's Steelers helmet

Rob Carr/Getty Images Gunner Olszewski’s Pittsburgh Steelers helmet prior to a game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on January 1, 2023.

It’s safe to say that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver/kick returner Gunner Olszewski isn’t a fan of the NFL’s new rule that allows kickoff returners to call for a fair catch anywhere inside the 25-yard line.

“A bunch of people are trying to get rid of our part of the game,” Olszewski told Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on June 15. “That’s how we feel about it. They feel like special teams are dangerous. Football is a dangerous game. You can’t ever take that out of it. I hate it for the game, but it’s the rule now. I’m just rolling with it.”

He’s rolling with it for the moment, that is. Olszewski’s job — like those of other kick return specialists around the league — figures to be in jeopardy, as the Steelers could no doubt find a less-expensive option to fair catch kickoffs and handle the occasional return.

According to Over the Cap, Olszewski is scheduled to earn a $2 million salary in 2023 while counting $2,617,500 against the cap. The Steelers can release him prior to setting the 53-man roster and save the $2 million while incurring a $617,500 cap charge. That roster move seems almost inevitable, especially considering how the former All-Pro — signed to a 2-year, $4.2 million contract in March 2022 — fumbled away his starting job just four weeks into his first season in Pittsburgh.

That said, Olszewski isn’t just upset with the NFL’s decision makers, he feels the players ought to have a direct say in rule changes like the new fair catch rule (passed in May 2023), which allows the ball to be placed at the receiving team’s 25-yard line.

“You can’t un-dangerous the game of football, in my opinion,” Olszewski added. “We know what we sign up for. Personally, I don’t like hearing guys who don’t sound like they understand football making decisions on our game. The [players association] doesn’t give us a chance to vote on anything like that. I’m not looking to complain about it. I hate it. I think it stinks for guys who are teamers and guys who try to go out and get jobs. They’re taking chances away from us.”

Steelers Release Safety Scott Nelson

One player who won’t be getting a chance to further his Steelers career is reserve safety Scott Nelson, who was released by the team on June 16.

Nelson had two short stints on Pittsburgh’s practice squad in 2022; he was signed to a one-year, reserve/futures contract in January 2023.

Broncos Try out 2 Ex-Steelers

In other recent news, the Denver Broncos had former Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. in for a tryout this past week, with the news coming courtesy of Mike Klis, who covers the Broncos for 9News in Denver.

Snell, 25, was drafted by the Steelers in the 4th round in 2019, and all his NFL experience has come with Pittsburgh. He had his statistically-strongest season as a rookie, when he carried the ball 108 times for 426 yards and two touchdowns. All told, he has played in 63 regular-season games (five starts), having rushed the ball 275 times for 982 yards and seven touchdowns. He also has 17 career catches for 114 yards.

As noted by Klis, placekicker Randy Bullock also got a look-see from the Broncos. Bullock kicked for the Steelers in one game in 2016 and converted all four of his attempts — three field goals and one extra-point.

Bullock has kicked for six different teams over the course of his decade-long career, including the Cincinnati Bengals (2016-20) and Tennessee Titans (2021-22).

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