Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who played college football for the Ohio State Buckeyes, will not play in 2018 due to spinal injury
INDIANAPOLIS — Kevin Colbert confirmed what most unfortunately expected: Ryan Shazier won’t be returning for the 2018 season.
The Steelers’ general manager said Shazier, who suffered a spinal injury last December, will remain with the team as he continues rehabbing, but Pittsburgh is preparing for football without its playmaking inside linebacker this season.
“Ryan Shazier won’t play in 2018,” Colbert said from the NFL scouting combine. “He knows that, and we know that. We’re going to continue to support him in his recovery. We know that going into this season he won’t play, and he’ll end up on a different type of list once we get a determination from the league as to where he’ll end up.
“We know that’s a challenge, because we’ll be at 89 players, but fortunately for Ryan he’s covered in that manner, that he will be part of our team officially and also unofficially, because he’s still with us day-to-day as he rehabs. He involves himself with the team and team issues so that he can be a formidable member in 2018.”
Shazier, 25, reportedly regained feeling in his legs in early January after undergoing spinal stabilization surgery on Dec. 4 following a tackle attempt vs. the Bengals that required him to be carted off the field on a backboard in Week 13.
The Steelers last spring picked up Shazier’s fifth-year 2018 option, which is guaranteed for injury, so he’ll earn approximately $8.7 million despite spending the season on the reserve list.
With Shazier’s 2018 absence confirmed, so is the Steelers’ need to prioritize addressing his vacancy as much as any move they’ll make this offseason. The vet LB market is somewhatbarren, but Colbert could seek reinforcements in both free agency and the draft, where guys like Darius Leonard of South Carolina State and Leighton Vander Esch of Boise State could be available at No. 28 overall and help replace the rare speed, dynamism and playmaking punch Shazier provides like few others.