The Steelers 25 to 13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals did not come without its costs. Michael Vick’s hamstring injury might have very well cost him his status as QB number 2, but Kelvin Beachum’s torn ACL could prove even more costly.
“Next Man Up” is a phrase that’s getting all too familiar in the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room. According The Steelers Wire, the Steelers have already missed 65 starter games due to injury. Per ESPN the Steelers are only second to the Green Bay Packers in terms of injuries.
- In the short term the immediate beneficiaries are Landry Jones and Alejandro Villanueva but Beachum figures to pay the price next March.
As a fourth year rookie, Kelvin Beachum was scheduled to become a free agent and looked to cash in big time. He will of course still become a
free agent, but his value on the free agent market, but Beachum’s ACL injury will put a considerable dent into his market value.
it is unfortunate too because the Steelers offered Beachum a long-term contract prior to the beginning of the season, but Beachum offered to take his chances. No one knows how far the Steelers and Beachum were in terms of numbers, but he’d have done well to have talked to Steelers inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky.
Olsavsky and Beachum Have a Lot in Common
It might seem odd to suggest that an offensive lineman take advice from an outside linebackers coach, but Jerry Olsavsky and Kelvin Beachum have a lot in common. When the Steelers drafted Jerry Olsavsky in the 10th round of the 1989 NFL draft, he was hardly the prototypical NFL inside linebacker. One commentator described him as “Not big enough, not strong enough, not fast enough, but simply good enough.”
- Like Kelvin Beachum, Jerry Olsavsky defied the odds and made the Steelers opening day roster.
Like Beachum, injuries created an opportunity for Jerry Olsavsky to not only play, but to start as a rookie. Like Beachum, Jerry Olsavsky impressed coaches and skeptics a like, filling in for Hardy Nickerson so well that he earned AP All rookie team honors.
There their paths diverged. Kelvin Beachum became as starter in his second year, first getting forced into action at center after Maurkice Pouncey’s injury on opening day 2013 vs. the Titans, and then at left tackle when Mike Adams proved to be woefully inadequate.
In contrast, a healthy Hardy Nickerson kept Jerry Olsavsky on the bench though much of 1990, 1991, and 1992. There was no free agency then, so Olsavsky had little choice but accept his lot as a special teamer. In 1992 it was clear that Nickerson would not be back due to a contract dispute, and David Little’s skills were on the decline.
Even before the 1992 season was over, Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest was openly suggesting that Levon Kirkland and Jerry Olsavsky would be the Steelers starting inside linebacking tandem in 1993.
The Glory, Agony, and Lost Opportunity of Jerry Olsavsky’s 1993 Season
Kirkland and Olsavsky did take over the inside linebacking starting slots in 1993, and everything seemed to be falling into place for the unheralded draft pick from Pitt. The Steelers defense improved from 13th in the league to 3rd (in total yardage) and the Freeman McNeil verdict had ushered free agency into the NFL. And Olsavsky was in the final year of his contract….
- At the time, the Pittsburgh Steelers still hadn’t implemented their regular season contract negotiation blackout policy.
The Steelers signed Rod Woodson and Barry Foster to lucrative deals in September, and made offers to a number of other players. Jerry Olsavsky was one of them. However, squabbles over contracts caused tension and distraction in the lockeroom, and the Steelers abruptly cut off all negotiations until the end of the season.
Jerry Olsavsky had decline an offer from the Steelers. The number are not available on the internet, but the $800,000 sticks in my memory, whether that was a signing bonus or an annual average is unknown. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was good money in 1993.
- Seven games into the season, Jerry Olsavsky suffered a devastating injury vs. the Cleveland Browns.
Again, the exact extent of the injury isn’t available on the internet, but if memory serves, Jerry Olsavsky blew out 3 of 4 ligaments in one of his knees. Olsavsky made a miraculous comeback, and was resigned to the Steelers active roster in the middle of 1994, and became a part time starter when a “high ankle sprain” marred Chad Brown’s 1994 season.
But the Jerry Olsavsky knee injury cost him his big payday in Pittsburgh.
Kelvin Beachum’s Free Agency Fortunes Unknown
Kelvin Beachum’s ACL injury isn’t nearly as devastating as the Jerry Olsavsky knee injury was. He will find interest on the free agent market, likely finding suitors in both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the rest of the league. But whatever offer he gets, it will certainly be less than whatever the Steelers had on the table last summer.
Beachum’s attitude is healthy, as he told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
That stuff will take care of itself when it is time to, and I said that from the get-go. I am a football player and this is one of the things that happen when you play football. It’s part of the game.
Good for him. But you can’t help but wonder if he doesn’t regret not talking to Olsavsky before turning the Steelers down.