Throughout this ongoing process, the Steelers have maintained their primary interest was to support Ryan Shazier, first in his quest to be able to live a normal life and then in his pursuit of a return to the field as a linebacker in the National Football League. This move is another step the team has taken toward fulfilling that promise.
The Steelers announced that Shazier's contract will be tolled into the 2019 NFL season, which means he will remain on the team's roster this year and eventually will be placed on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform List.
Tolling his contract means Shazier will be paid a salary commensurate with his years of service in the NFL, he will continue to accrue seasons toward his NFL players' pension, and his medical insurance plan will be the same coverage that all active NFL players receive.
"We will continue to support Ryan's efforts to return to play," said General Manager Kevin Colbert. "Although he won't be able to help us on the field in 2019, his leadership, insight, and emotional support have always been very valuable to us, and we look forward to his contributions in our pursuit of a championship."
Clearly, this is the most beneficial arrangement for Shazier, and the Steelers will reap the benefits of having him remain a part of the team on a daily basis through the 2019 season.
Shazier was the Steelers' first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the 15th overall selection, and he was voted to the Pro Bowl for the first time following the 2016 season. In 2017, prior to sustaining that season-ending injury in the team's Week 13 win at Cincinnati on Dec. 4, Shazier was tied for the most interceptions among AFC linebackers with three; he was tied for second among all AFC defensive players in solo tackles with 68; and he was leading all NFL linebackers with 11 passes defensed.
Putting some numbers to what Shazier's contribution entails in terms of production: In 41 regular season starts, Ryan Shazier had 24 tackles for loss, seven sacks, seven interceptions, 25 passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries; and in five postseason starts, he had three tackles for loss, two interceptions, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.