NFL

Steelers sign defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to one-year deal

By Sports Desk June 21, 2022

Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi will continue his tour of the AFC North by signing a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  

Ogunjobi spent his first four seasons with the Cleveland Browns before recording a career-high seven sacks, a team-high 12 tackles for loss and 49 total tackles last season for the Cincinnati Bengals.  

This is the second time this offseason that Ogunjobi has agreed to a free-agent contract, signing a reported three-year, $40.5 million deal with the Chicago Bears in March before that deal fell through when he failed his physical.  

Ogunjobi started 16 games last season for the Bengals but suffered a season-ending right foot injury during a Wild Card round victory over the Las Vegas Raiders. 

Ogunjobi will replace the retired Stephon Tuitt as the third starter on the Steelers' defensive line, along with Cameron Heyward and Tyson Alualu.

He should help Pittsburgh improve a run defense that finished 32nd in the NFL last season in rushing yards allowed and 32nd in rushing yards per attempt. 

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    Watson has received an 11-game suspension and a $5million fine after the NFL and NFL Players Association (NFLPA) reached an agreement over his punishment.

    The 26-year-old faced 24 civil lawsuits over sexual assault and misconduct allegations. He was not charged by two grand juries and settled 20 of 24 lawsuits in June, with a further three settlements reported ahead of a hearing verdict early this month.

    Watson was given an initial six-game suspension and no further fine after a disciplinary hearing conducted by former US district judge Sue L. Robinson. However, the NFL formally appealed against that ruling in order to seek further punishment, agreeing to the new sanctions with the NFLPA.

    Watson's first game back is scheduled to be on December 4, against his former team the Houston Texans.

    Having denied any wrongdoing after the accusations were made, Watson last week apologised to "all of the women that I have impacted".

    A similar message came on Thursday in a statement from the Browns, in which Watson said he wished to "apologise once again for any pain this situation has caused".

    "I take accountability for the decisions I made," Watson's statement added. "My focus going forward is on working to become the best version of myself on and off the field and supporting my team-mates however possible while I’m away from the team."

    Just minutes later, Watson faced the press and said he would continue to "stand by my innocence".

    Watson said it was important to swallow the punishment, stating: "My whole life has to be able to move forward."

    He spoke of needing "to grow as a person", but refused to offer a view on the level of punishment dished out.

    "I can't speak on the fairness," Watson said. "The NFL did what they had to do, and the NFLPA communicated with the legal side. I'm going to keep my opinion to myself."

    Watson was not mincing his words when he added: "I'm moving on with my career and my life, and I'm continuing to stand on my innocence. Just because a settlement's been paid, it doesn't mean a person is guilty for anything."

    When asked about whether he would tell all at some point, Watson said: "That's definitely the plan, that's definitely the goal. I've felt like through this whole process I've been trying to tell my side of the story, but a lot of people didn't really pay much attention to it."

    He said he needed "to do what's best for Deshaun Watson" and said he could not control public opinion.

    On top of the ban and fine, Watson will be required to commit to an evaluation with behavioural experts while also following a mandatory treatment programme. He says he wants to prove himself to the Cleveland community.

    "Counselling is definitely a big part of that," Watson said. "I'll continue to show my face and show people who I really am."

    Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam issued a joint statement in which they spoke of "a real opportunity to create meaningful change", saying they were "committed to investing in programmes in Northeast Ohio that will educate our youth regarding awareness, understanding, and most importantly, prevention of sexual misconduct and the many underlying causes of such behaviour".

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    Watson was initially given a six-game suspension and no further fine after a disciplinary hearing conducted by former US district judge Sue L. Robinson.

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    Watson will additionally be required to commit to an evaluation with behavioural experts while also following a mandatory treatment program.

    The ban means that Watson's first game back is scheduled to be on December 4, against his former team the Houston Texans.

    Watson denied any wrongdoing after the accusations were made. He then last week apologised to "all of the women that I have impacted."

    The Texans traded the three-time Pro Bowler to Cleveland in March, and the Browns promptly signed Watson to a five-year, $230m extension that is entirely guaranteed.

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