Steelers Add Former Top 5 Pick, ‘Coach on Rise’ to Replace Brian Flores: Report

Aaron Curry Seahawks

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Isaac Redman of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled by Aaron Curry of the Seattle Seahawks on September 18, 2011.

According to Matt Zenitz of On3 Sports, the Pittsburgh Steelers are hiring former NFL linebacker Aaron Curry as a linebackers coach.

In effect, Curry takes the spot on the coaching staff that was vacated when former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores left Pittsburgh to serve as the new defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. Flores, 41, was hired by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin in February 2022, and served as senior defensive assistant/linebacker’s coach during the one year he spent in Pittsburgh.

Aaron Curry Was Considered a Bust as a Player

As for Curry, 36, he originally came into the NFL in 2009, when he was drafted No. 4 overall by the Seattle Seahawks out of Wake Forest. But the former Demon Deacon failed to live up to expectations, so much so that the Seahawks traded him to the Raiders for the 2012 seventh-round pick and 2013 fifth-round pick in the middle of his third NFL season.

Curry didn’t succeed with the Raiders, either, playing a total of 13 games (with nine starts) over parts of two seasons before he was waived in Nov. 2012. He went on to sign with the New York Giants in 2013, but failed to make the team out of training camp.

All told, Curry appeared in 48 NFL games (39 starts) and recorded 203 tackles (163 solo), including 18 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 19 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries, as per Pro Football Reference.

Aaron Curry Has Been Labeled a ‘Coach on Rise’

But while the Fayetteville, N.C. native had an underwhelming career as a player, he came to impress Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll with his communication skills, so much so that he was labeled as a “coach on (the) rise” just three years into his pro coaching career.

“I’ve been surprised and absolutely blown away by how far he’s come so fast,” Carroll told Tim Booth of the Associated Press in 2021. “He’s an incredible part of what our staff is all about right now. He’s got the sense, he’s got the delivery, and he’s got a really good mentality about dealing, talking with, and challenging players.”

As noted by Zenitz, Curry joined Seattle’s coaching staff in 2019, serving as a coaching assistant in his first year before working as a defensive assistant/linebackers in 2020-21. Last season, Curry was Seattle’s assistant defensive line/defensive ends coach.

Curry’s coaching career got underway in 2014, when he worked as a strength and conditioning intern and graduate assistant at UNC Charlotte, the school that produced Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith. Later, Curry worked as a defensive assistant for the 49ers, while also earning a Master’s degree in sports leadership.

Curry indicated to Booth that he would like to be an NFL head coach someday.

“When you’re passionate about it, you just go. You wake up every day and you just go and there’s nothing that can discourage me from it,” Curry said. “Nothing that can keep me from getting to where I want to get to….”

Considering the value that Mike Tomlin places on NFL bloodlines, it’s perhaps worth noting that Curry’s father, Reggie Pinkney, was an NFL player, too. Pinkney, now 67, was selected in the 6th round of the 1977 draft by the Detroit Lions and played defensive back for the Lions for two years before spending the final three seasons of his career with the Baltimore Colts.

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