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Mountaineers in the Pros

WVU Product LB Nick Kwiatkoski Calls Being Home with Steelers ‘Awesome’



Nick Kwiatkoski

Byline: Adam Borst

The Pittsburgh Steelers brought in Nick Kwiatkoski for a tryout during the team’s mandatory minicamp and then signed him to a one-year deal shortly afterward. Kwiatkoski, a Bethel Park, Pennsylvania native, is a WVU product and has played seven NFL seasons for three different teams.

At this point in his journey, Kwiatkoski is just taking everything in and is enjoying where he is currently at, back home in Pittsburgh. Kwiatkoski even acknowledged that he grew up as a Steelers fan.

“I grew up a Steelers fan,” Kwiatkoski said. “[I am from] Bethel Park, obviously, I was close. Awesome opportunity for me, and I am excited about it.”

Kwiatkoski has racked up nearly 300 tackles in the NFL and has shown the ability to cover when needed as he has hauled in six career interceptions. He reflected on his career to this point and is just enjoying every minute of it.

“It’s been a fun ride,” Kwiatkoski said. “It’s been awesome.”

As far as what he has picked up since coming to Pittsburgh, it is that the vibe is immaculate, and that he cannot wait to continue to work with his current teammates.

While he is likely to serve as a rotational piece for the Steelers in 2023, if he proves to be better than second-year Mark Robinson, he should see the field plenty for the Steelers defense. That is if he can crack the Steelers’ final roster as he is signed to a veteran minimum contract and can be cut without the team having to incur any dead money against the cap.

The likely starters at the inside linebacker positions are the newly-signed duo of Elandon Roberts and Cole Holcomb. Fellow veteran Tanner Muse is also in the conversation for backup and special teams duty.

Acquired: The Steelers signed Kwiatkoski to a one-year contract after the team hosted him for a tryout during the team’s mandatory minicamp in June. Kwiatkoski’s contract with the Atlanta Falcons expired after the 2022 season.

Last seasonAfter four seasons with the Bears and two with the Raiders, Kwiatkoski signed with the Atlanta Falcons for the 2022 season. Kwiatkoski was used on special teams in Atlanta as he recorded zero defensive snaps but was on the field for 228 snaps of special teams.

In 2022, Kwiatkoski made seven combined tackles for the Falcons on special teams.

CareerThe Chicago Bears drafted Kwiatkoski with the 113th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Kwiatkoski appeared in 14 games as a rookie and started seven of them. He tallied 44 combined tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble on 457 defensive snaps.

In his second year, Kwiatkoski appeared in 11 games and started six. He finished the year with 49 combined tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble on 382 defensive snaps. Pro Football Focus gave him an overall defensive rating of 80.5, which is regarded as elite.

Kwiatkoski opened the 2018 season as the Bears’ starting inside linebacker but lost the job to rookie Roquon Smith. Kwiatkoski recorded his first NFL reception in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings as he caught a pass from Mitch Trubisky on a two-point conversion attempt.

In 2019, Kwiatkoski appeared in all 16 games for the Bears and made eight starts. He finished the season with 76 combined tackles, a career-high three sacks, one forced fumble, and his first NFL interception. He earned his second-highest PFF (72.5) rating after the season as well.

Kwiatkoski used his above-average play in 2019 to land himself a three-year contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. In 2020, Kwiatkoski started all 12 games that he appeared in for the Raiders and finished the year with a career-high in combined tackles (81) and defensive snaps (651). He also added a sack, a forced fumble, and an interception in his first season with the Raiders.

Kwiatkoski’s production began to dip with the 2021 season. He only appeared in eight games due to an injury that forced him onto the team’s injured reserve and only played 66 defensive snaps. The Raiders released him after the 2021 season.

In total, Kwiatkoski has played in 89 career games and made 34 starts. He has made 293 combined tackles, seven sacks, six interceptions, and two forced fumbles.

CollegeKwiatkoski played his high school football at Bethel Park High School in Pittsburgh but decided to commit to the University of West Virginia to continue his football career. He redshirted in his first season as a Mountaineer in 2011.

In 2012, Kwiatkoski appeared in 12 games and recorded his first collegiate start. He finished his redshirt freshman season with 28 combined tackles.

As a redshirt sophomore, Kwiatkoski started all 10 games that he appeared in for the Mountaineers. Kwiatkoski enjoyed his best all-around collegiate season in 2013 as he tallied 86 combined tackles, two sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions.

In 2014, Kwiatkoski started all 13 games for West Virginia as he finished the season with a career-high 103 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss.

As a redshirt senior in 2015, Kwiatkoski started all 13 games again for the Mountaineers. He finished the year with 86 combined tackles, 10 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and three interceptions.

In total, Kwiatkoski appeared in 48 games and started 37 of them in his career at West Virginia. He racked up 303 combined tackles, two sacks, 28 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and six interceptions.

Salary cap and future: Kwiatkoski signed a one-year veteran minimum contract with the Steelers for the 2023 season. His contract carries a base salary of $1.17 million but since it is a veteran minimum contract, his cap hit in 2023 will only be $940,000. Kwiatkoski will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2023 season.

This story initially appeared on our partner site Steelers Now.  

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