Devin Bush Breaks Silence on Steelers Declining Fifth-Year Option

Devin Bush Jr. Steelers

Nick Cammett/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Devin Bush Jr.

A month ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers declined to pick up the fifth-year option on 2019 first-round pick Devin Bush Jr. In effect, that makes 2022 a contract year for Bush, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the forthcoming season.

On Wednesday, Bush addressed the media for the first time since the Steelers made that decision and was asked how he felt about it.

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Devin Bush: ‘It’s Business’

“Me and my agent talked about it,” he said, during a media scrum in the locker room at the team’s practice facility. “We had our discussions. We feel like the team made a decision they needed to make, and we have to make decisions we gotta make that are necessary to move on from it. I wasn’t butt hurt or wasn’t pissed off or anything like that. It’s business. That’s how I looked at it,” he concluded, matter-of-factly.

Bush, 23, is coming off a season in which he started 14 games but looked nowhere near as impactful as before he tore his ACL in October 2020 during a home game against the Cleveland Browns. The University of Michigan product claimed he’s in a better position to thrive this year, being that much further removed from the knee injury.

“I feel like I’m starting a whole new slate and feeling pretty good about it,” he said, indicating that he believes he can get back to the path he was on before the ACL tear.

“Before I got hurt, I think I was doing good. I was on my way to All-Pro, Pro Bowler, but things happen,” he said, having admitted that his confidence faltered “at times” last season.

“I wasn’t happy with my play, of course. I wasn’t happy with losing,” he added, continuing to say all the right things. That is, until he was asked whether he had anything to prove going forward.

Bush: ‘I Don’t Think I Have to Prove Anything’

“I don’t think I have anything to prove because I am a first-rounder — a Top 10 pick — and that’s never going to change, so I don’t think I have to prove anything to anybody. More so, I’ve just got to go out there and play football,” he intoned.

Some would argue that Bush has much to prove in 2022; namely, that he can get back to looking like the player he was during his rookie year, when he finished third in AP Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, having recorded 109 total tackles, including nine tackles for loss, a pair of interceptions, and four fumble recoveries, as per Pro Football Reference.

Otherwise, 2022 will likely be his last season in Pittsburgh. Either that or he will command a much smaller second contract than one might have expected after he was drafted No. 10 overall in 2019.

That’s not unlike what Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds experienced in the wake of the team declining to pick up Terrell Edmunds’ fifth-year option in May 2021. Edmunds reached unrestricted free agency earlier this year but found that the market for his services was weak. He ultimately decided to return to the Steelers on a new one-year deal that pays him $2.5 million in 2022.

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