Kevin Colbert: Ryan Shazier won’t play in 2019, but Steelers want him on roster
INDIANAPOLIS – As Ryan Shazier continues his comeback from spinal cord surgery, he and the Pittsburgh Steelers have an understanding that any return to the NFL won’t happen until at least the 2020 season.
General manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday at the NFL Combine that Shazier will be a part of the organization this season although not in a playing capacity.
“He knows that,” Colbert said. “I can’t really speak for him, but I know he still wants to try to play football. We’ll support him. There’s no ceiling on what we would ever say to him as far as him wanting to do that. That’s up to him.
“He continues to rehab. He continues to improve.”
Colbert said the Steelers are still waiting to hear from the NFL on the legalities of a contract for Shazier, who is in unprecedented territory. Shazier received $8.718 million from the Steelers last year as part of the fifth-year contract option that the Steelers exercised in the spring of 2017. The team converted all but $458,000 of that contract into a signing bonus for Shazier last summer.
That contract expires March 13 when the new NFL calendar begins. Any contract that Shazier signs will count against the salary cap, and he will be a part of the 90-man offseason roster.
“It’s a unique situation,” Colbert said. “Ryan will be part of the football roster in some form or fashion in 2019. We have to figure out what is legal by NFL means. We are in the process of doing that.”
While Shazier recovered from his injury in 2018, he was involved in scouting and player development. He also assisted players in an unofficial coaching capacity.
“If we can find a way that he can do both, and I think we can, we have to get clarification and verification from the league that this will be good,” Colbert said.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .