Pittsburgh Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt retiring after 8 seasons

PITTSBURGH -- After eight years in the NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt announced his retirement Wednesday.

Tuitt, 29, didn't play during the 2021 season following the death of his brother in a hit-and-run crash.

"After the tragic loss of my brother Richard, and upon completing my degree from the University of Notre Dame, I know I am being called to move beyond the sport of football," Tuitt said in a statement released by the Steelers.

Selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, Tuitt spent eight years with the organization. During his tenure, Tuitt was a regular starter at defensive end for six of his eight seasons. Tuitt's status with the organization has largely been a mystery since the 2021 offseason. Following the death of Richard Bartlett III in June, Tuitt took time away from football to grieve. He also had knee surgery early in the 2021 season, but the Steelers elected not to start him on the physically unable to perform list to begin the season.

Still, the Steelers were optimistic he would return.

"We've been in contact with Stephon and we're very open to continue to help him and we will continue to evaluate that position and his availability to us," former general manager Kevin Colbert said earlier this year. "We just hope for the best for him as he tries to come back and be a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers."

With Tuitt's retirement, the Steelers lose an important player in their defense. Though he didn't play last season, when healthy, Tuitt was a force. He had a career-high 11 sacks in 2020 along with two forced fumbles.

"His success both on and off the field speaks volumes for who he is as a person and a player," general manager Omar Khan said in a statement. "Stephon had always handled himself with class and maturity as he continues to be a great husband, father, son and family man in his personal life."

The Steelers didn't use any of their top picks to bolster the defensive line, leaving Chris Wormley and Isaiahh Loudermilk as the top contenders to fill Tuitt's spot.

Tuitt had one year left on his contract and leaves behind nearly $10 million in dead cap money, but it could be spread over multiple years if the transaction is processed on or after June 1.