COVID-19 got in the way of Tyson Alualu returning to the Jaguars. He and the Steelers are grateful for the way it worked out.
The defensive lineman, a first-round choice of the Jaguars in 2010 who spent seven seasons in Jacksonville, agreed to a two-year, $6 million contract with his former team in March. But before he could catch his flight to Jacksonville to make the deal official, Alualu tested positive for the coronavirus.
His Steelers teammates and coaches convinced him to stay.
He will make less, having signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal to remain with the Steelers. But Alualu couldn’t be happier.
“It was a little stressful during that time just because we knew we wanted to stay in Pittsburgh,” Alualu said, via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We weren’t reaching an agreement. We felt like it was a better option to go there to get more money and go back to Jacksonville and where it started for us.
“Fortunately, it didn’t work that way. I got COVID and got to think about wanting to stay in Pittsburgh. It was nothing Jacksonville did to change my mind. I wanted to be here in Pittsburgh and things just kind of worked out. I’m still grateful that Jacksonville came after me. There were a lot of emotions that played into it. I have personal relationships with people in Jacksonville and I kind of hurt them in that process. But I’m just grateful that I’m still a Steeler and doing what I love in a place that I love, too.”
In four seasons with the Steelers, Alualu has 62 games played, 22 starts, 140 tackles, seven sacks and eight pass breakups.