The Steelers and their 2019 first-round draft pick signed a four-year contract Sunday with a total value of $18,871,768. According to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, the contract is fully guaranteed. As with all first-round contracts, the Steelers have an option on a fifth year.
The Steelers are counting on Bush to help fill the void left by the injured Ryan Shazier at inside linebacker and he made an immediate impression at the Steelers' recently completed rookie minicamp.
The full guarantee of the deal is something new for the Steelers. But it's become a trend in recent seasons with high draft picks.
The deal also is the highest given to a rookie in team history, which makes sense given Bush's selection was the highest the Steelers have drafted a player since taking Plaxico Burress in 2000.
The Steelers traded first- and second-round picks this year and a third-rounder in 2020 to move up in the draft and take Bush 10th overall.
But the Steelers, who had Bush as their top-rated linebacker in this draft, felt good enough about the player to make that kind of move. Bush is expected to battle free agent signing Mark Barron for a starting inside linebacker job in 2019.
Bush, 20, started 32 of the 39 games he played at Michigan, recording 194 tackles, 20 tackles for losses, 10 sacks, one interception and 17 passes defended.
Only CB Justin Layne, a third-round pick, has yet to sign from the 2019 class.
The Steelers will begin phase three of their OTA program May 21. Getting Bush under contract now takes care of the biggest issue still looming for the team.
The Steelers had $4.1 million in cap space available before completing the deal with Bush. This deal is expected to count around $3.5 million under the cap in 2019, meaning the team could have some other moves forthcoming to free up additional cap space.
The signing of Bush was not unexpected. The fully guaranteed deal, however, was.
But it's the cost of doing business in today's NFL. Remember, guaranteed money was the hangup in the Le'Veon Bell negotiations.
I would look for players such as Vance McDonald ($2.3 million) and Alejandro Villanueva ($2.1) to restructure deals at some point to help the team free up some cash.