Steelers will keep Ryan Shazier on roster, even though he won't play in 2019

It has been a tough offseason so far for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but there’s at least one feel-good move they’ve made this week

The Steelers announced they will keep linebacker Ryan Shazier on the team’s roster this coming season, tolling his contract. They will then place him on the reserve/physically unable to perform list for the remainder of 2019.

Shazier will not play this season, the team already announced, as his rehabilitation from a spinal injury continues.

“We will continue to support Ryan’s efforts to return to play,” general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “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.”

Shazier suffered the frightening injury late in the 2017 season, one that caused him to lose feeling in his lower body. He was diagnosed with a spinal contusion; spinal stabilization surgery has allowed him to speed up his remarkable recovery.

Despite not playing last season, Shazier served as a rallying force for Steelers players and fans alike. He shocked many when he walked across the AT&T Stadium stage at the 2018 NFL draft to announce the team’s first-round selection of safety Terrell Edmunds and reportedly has upgraded to jogging after it was feared initially that he might never walk again.

13 PHOTOS
Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier
See Gallery
Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 26: Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (50) enters the field before an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers on November 26, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Steelers went on to win the game 31-28 with a field goal on final play. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Ryan Shazier (Ohio State) holds up his jersey after being selected as the number fifteen overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware (32) runs the ball past Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (50) during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 26: Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (50) warms up before an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers on November 26, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Steelers went on to win the game 31-28 with a field goal on final play. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 12: Ryan Shazier #50 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 12, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Steelers won 20-17. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 22: Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (50) celebrates pressuring Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) during an NFL game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 22, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 29: Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier (50) waits for the play during game action between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions on October 29, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 29: Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier (50), Pittsburgh Steelers corner back Artie Burns (25), and Pittsburgh Steelers safety Sean Davis (28) talks during a timeout during game action between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Detroit Lions on October 29, 2017 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24: Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (50) reaches out to recover a fumble during an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chicago Bears on September 24, 2017 at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 24: Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears is tackled by Ryan Shazier #50 of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Soldier Field on September 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Steelers 23-17 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 18: Ryan Shazier #50 of the Pittsburgh Steelers sacks Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 11: Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills exchanges jerseys with Ryan Shazier #50 of the Pittsburgh Steelers after their NFL game at New Era Field on December 11, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04: Ryan Shazier #50 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackles Rashad Jennings #23 during the game against the New York Giants at Heinz Field on December 4, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Giants 24-14. (Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

What this move means

The Steelers are graciously paying Shazier the NFL’s veteran minimum salary, and his place on the PUP list affords him access to insurance and benefits. The Rooney family should be applauded for this move, tolling Shazier’s contract and keeping him around the team.

Shazier had been slated for free agency, but he’ll remain with the Steelers for now, even though he won’t play this season.

But for a team that will lose Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, and whose coach, Mike Tomlin, suddenly is facing quite a bit of pressure, Shazier might serve as an inspirational figure as he continues his rehab.

The team already had converted more than $8 million of his salary into a signing bonus, so it’s clear how much the Steelers value and support him.

Will Shazier ever play again?

It’s a very difficult question to answer.

The easy response is that Shazier has too far to come, that the risks of returning to the field might be too great to overcome. But given the remarkable progress he has made, along with Shazier’s stated determination to come back to the field one day, it can’t be completely ruled out.

"Almost every week, he’s doing something he wasn’t doing the week before," Steelers president Art Rooney II said in January. "He’s a remarkable young man and an inspiration to everybody around here."

The Steelers clearly want to assist him any way they can in what has been a tough time for the vaunted franchise.

More from Yahoo Sports:

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.