The COVID-19 pandemic ran rampant throughout the NFL last season, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the most affected franchises in the league. The Steelers had multiple games postponed in 2020, and none of them were even their fault.
Pittsburgh’s unlucky season littered with coronavirus setbacks came to a surprising end against the Cleveland Browns in the AFC wild-card round. Just over a month later, the Steelers just suffered another scary COVID-19 blow as head coach Mike Tomlin tested positive for the virus.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were greatly affected by COVID-19 last season
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COVID-19 made the 2020 NFL season hard on everyone involved. Numerous regular-season games were postponed, schedules shifted around on the fly, and players were forced to miss games simply because they were in the vicinity of someone who tested positive.
No team was immune from COVID-19 setbacks last season, but the Steelers might’ve gotten the worst of the pandemic. First, Pittsburgh’s Week 4 game against the Tennessee Titans was postponed because of an outbreak in the Titans’ locker room. The Steelers were forced to use up their bye week originally scheduled for Week 7.
Then, their Week 12 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving was postponed. And postponed again. And again. After waiting five days for the Ravens to get their COVID-19 situation under control, the Steelers finally returned to the field the following Tuesday.
Pittsburgh had to play again five days later against the Washington Football Team and suffered their first loss of the season. The Steelers’ schedule was moved around more than any team in the NFL last season, and it undoubtedly led to their collapse down the stretch.
Pittsburgh’s season ended in the AFC wild-card round with a 48-37 loss to the Browns, and the game wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated.
Mike Tomlin tests positive for COVID-19
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Once the NFL season ended, the Steelers thought they were finally free from the ruthless virus that is COVID-19. But even though football is done for the year, the coronavirus hasn’t gone anywhere.
On Monday, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was diagnosed with COVID-19. Tomlin is now away from the team facility along with a few other members of the coaching and personnel staffs who also tested positive.
Tomlin is a healthy, 48-year-old man, so he can hopefully defeat COVID-19 within the next week or two.
What’s next for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers?
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Assuming Mike Tomlin bounces back from his battle with COVID-19 and returns to the team fully healthy soon, the Steelers still have plenty of decisions to make ahead of the 2021 NFL season.
Everything starts and ends with longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. General manager Kevin Colbert made Pittsburgh fans very nervous when he was oddly noncommittal about Roethlisberger’s future during a press conference held last week.
“As we sit here today, Ben is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Colbert told reporters last week. “He reiterated to us that he wants to continue to play, and we told him quite frankly we have to look at this current situation. … With Ben’s current cap number, some adjustment will have to be made.”
If Roethlisberger retires or the Steelers cut him before the season starts, Pittsburgh will incur a $22.25 million dead cap hit. Oh, and the Steelers are already nearly $20 million over the cap as it is. It will take some expert cap maneuvering for Colbert and company if the Steelers are going to return next season as legitimate AFC contenders.