The Steelers immediately placed rookie Ryan Shazier in their starting lineup at inside linebacker for the opening of their OTAs last week.
On Thursday, they made sure Shazier, the 15th pick in this year’s draft, wouldn’t miss any practice time once training camp begins at the end of July, signing him to a four-year deal that includes a club option for a fifth season.
While terms of the deal were not announced, cornerback Kyle Fuller, the player selected one pick ahead of Shazier, signed a four-year deal with Chicago worth $9.68 million with a $5.37-million signing bonus. C.J. Mosley, selected two picks after Shazier by Baltimore, signed a four-year deal worth $8.78 million that included a $4.71-million bonus.
Per the NFL’s rookie contract slotting rules, Shazier’s contract would fall between those two deals.
The Steelers are counting on the speedy Shazier to help improve a run defense that allowed an uncharacterstic 115 yards rushing per game last season.
He already impressed some of his new teammates.
“He’s our type of guy,” said inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who will line up next to Shazier in the Steelers’ 3-4 defense. “I have nothing but the best to say about him.”
A 2013 first-team All-American linebacker at Ohio State, Shazier finished his career for the Buckeyes with 316 tackles, 14 sacks, 44.5 TFLs, nine quarterback pressures and forced nine fumbles in 39 games, 29 of which were starts.
With Shazier’s signing, the Steelers now have six of their nine draft picks signed.