The Pittsburgh Steelers have converted nearly all of linebacker Ryan Shazier’s 2018 base salary into a signing bonus. The move ensures that the injured Shazier will immediately receive more than $8 million. Approximately $8.26 million of Shazier’s $8.718 million base salary was converted into a signing bonus by the team.
The move may not have any salary-cap implications, but it still shows why the Pittsburgh Steelers and its ownership group are one of the most highly respected in all of the sports world. In the NFL, most teams would often try to recoup their money, hold off on payments, or try to negotiate an injury settlement.
Shazier, who is only 25, suffered a spinal injury on December 4th during a game against the rival Cincinnati Bengals. The promising young linebacker was forced to undergo spinal stabilization surgery. Shazier’s story became an inspiration for the Steelers last year, and after his injury, his teammates could be seen wearing cleats in dedication to him. Fans also greeted Shazier with a standing ovation when he made appearances at Steelers’ games. Shazier was drafted fifteenth overall in 2014 and has spent his entire career with the Steelers.
Since his injury, Shazier has been working through the rehabilitation program. Last week he made a surprise appearance at the NFL draft. With the help of his fiancée, Shazier walked across the stage to announce the Steeler’s first-round pick. It is unclear if Shazier will ever be able to play football again, but just seeing him walk was very encouraging sign especially after suffering such a severe injury.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said to reporters, “To see where he’s come from to where he is and knowing where he goes, it’s beyond inspirational. It’s just exciting. It’s really exciting for him.”
In similar situations, NFL teams would usually cut the player and move on, but the Steelers have decided to place Shazier on the physically-unable-to-perform list. The move ensures the linebacker won’t play in the 2018-2019 season, but it likely means the Steelers will keep Shazier.