Free Agent Tackle Rejects Idea of Signing with Steelers

Russell Okung

Grant Halverson/Getty Images Russell Okung of the Carolina Panthers during training camp on August 24, 2020.

Over the course of the past week, multiple NFL observers—including Bill Barnwell of ESPN and Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus—have suggested that the Pittsburgh Steelers and unrestricted free agent offensive tackle Russell Okung are a good match for each other.

But Okung has since used his Twitter account to indicate that he doesn’t see himself blocking for Ben Roethlisberger and Najee Harris in 2021, mostly because the Steelers “can’t afford” him.

Indeed the Steelers currently have a reported $7.9 million in cap space (according to, so Pittsburgh would likely have to get creative to add him to its lineup on a one-year deal.

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A ‘Dogecoin Option?!?

That’s why Bill Barnwell of ESPN offered potential solutions to the financial obstacle, and one of the ideas offended Okung’s sensibilities.

Specifically, Barnwell suggested that “It might take voidable years or a Dogecoin option to get the deal done,” making reference to the “meme cryptocurrency,” which was created as a joke but has recently surged in price, despite the fact that it is “not a very effective store of value” and “highly inflationary, by design.”

Never mind that Barnwell was likely being facetious when he suggested that Dogecoin might be of interest to a Bitcoin enthusiast like Okung, who earned widespread publicity last year when he indicated his $13 million NFL salary was being paid in Bitcoin.

In fact, what was happening (according to, is that Okung was utilizing the services of a startup “that converts payroll direct deposits [from the Carolina Panthers] into cryptocurrency.”

Okung will likely have to utilize the same (or similar) arrangement in 2021, unless the team that employs him:

1) holds Bitcoin, and
2) Is willing to pay him in Bitcoin

Why is Russell Okung So Enthusiastic About Bitcoin?

Judging by his tweets, there are more than a few reasons why Okung is excited about Bitcoin—which, per Forbes Advisor, is “a decentralized digital currency that you can buy, sell and exchange directly, without an intermediary like a bank.”

Clearly, inflation is one of his biggest concerns, as it’s an issue that is referenced in many of his tweets.

He also sees Bitcoin as providing independence from the world financial system …

… and a great way to save/invest his money.

All of which explains his enthusiasm for the following meme, an illustration of the term “diamond hands,” which in this context refers to holding Bitcoin indefinitely, regardless of risks, headwinds or short-term losses.

Notably, Okung makes no mention of the risks or challenges associated with owning and holding Bitcoin, which are beyond the scope of this article but which help explain why Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are yet to achieve more mainstream acceptance and usage. That includes a variety of serious security risks, including cybertheft and fraud , which stem from the fact that Bitcoin is 100% technology-based.

“Coins are digitally mined, exchanged via smart wallet and kept in check using various systems. Without that technology, cryptocurrency is worth nothing. Unlike other forms of currency or investment, there is no physical collateral to back it up,” notes Forbes.

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