The news was not unexpected, but it was delivered in a very 2021 way. On Friday, recently-retired Pittsburgh Steelers guard Ramon Foster released a statement on his Twitter account announcing that longtime Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, 32, has decided to retire after 11 years in the NFL. Along with the post came the news that Maurkice’s brother, Mike, has also decided to retire after nine years with the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers.
Maurkice Pouncey Explains Why He is Retiring
In his message, Maurkice Pouncey alluded to the reason he has decided to step away.
“I’ll always love the game of football … I’m jus [sic] not in love with the sacrifice football carries on my life,” which is likely a reference to all the work it takes to get ready to play on Sundays, not to mention the physical toll pro football takes on the body.
He leaves the game as one of the most decorated players at his position, as he’s the first center in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons (2010-12) and a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. He was twice voted first-team Associated Press All-Pro (2011, 2014) and was a second-team AP All-Pro selection three times (2010, 2012 and 2018).
However, he never got to play in a Super Bowl, as he injured an ankle in the 2010 AFC Championship Game against the New York Jets and missed the chance to go against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
In the wake of Pouncey’s decision, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin issued the following statement:
Steelers at the Center Position in 2021
With the news of Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement, the Steelers suddenly need to find a new long-term answer at the center position, as Pouncey has held down the starting job since shortly after he was the team’s first-round draft pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of the University of Florida.
For the moment, Pittsburgh will pencil in former undrafted free agent J.C. Hassenhauer, who started four games for the Steelers in 2020 while Pouncey was on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and being rested for the postseason. But center is now a position where the Steelers could utilize a top draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
As for the salary cap implications of Pouncey’s retirement, he leaves the game with one year left on the contract he signed in 2019, so the move saves the Steelers $8 million in salary in 2021. But it also puts $6,475,000 in dead money on the team’s salary cap this year, as that’s the remaining prorated portion of the bonus money he received with his latest contract extension.
As for the decision to announce the news via Ramon Foster, there’s no doubt the two remain close, having played alongside each other for ten seasons on Pittsburgh’s offensive line. But Foster is also a member of the media now. Since September he has been co-hosting a sports radio talk show on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville.
It remains to be seen whether Pouncey’s retirement influences Ben Roethlisberger‘s thinking as it relates to retirement vs. coming back for one more year. The two were seen getting emotional together on the bench following the postseason loss to the Cleveland Browns, and Pouncey has long indicated that he would retire if Roethlisberger decided to step away.
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