Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier’s work in his first three NFL seasons was enough to convince the team to exercise their option on his contract for the 2018 season.
The 2014 first-round pick moved into the starting lineup as a rookie, made the Pro Bowl last year and has generally made plays all over the field when he’s been in the lineup. That last point has been the biggest sticking point about his career to date.
Shazier has missed 14 games over his first three seasons and played through injuries several other times, something that didn’t give the Steelers pause in picking up his option despite it being guaranteed in the case of injury but has kept Shazier from realizing what he believes is his full potential on the field.
“I just want to have a full year in general just for myself,” Shazier said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “I feel like I have the capability of being one of the best players in the NFL. People can’t really see what I can do when I’m not on the field. Your best ability is availability.”
A healthy season would help the Steelers, who need Shazier to be at their best defensively, and Shazier personally as he heads toward his second contract.