Steelers Linebacker Announces Retirement After 8 Seasons

Vince Williams

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Vince Williams of the Pittsburgh Steelers after recovering a fumble against the Baltimore Ravens on December 02, 2020.

On Wednesday evening the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that veteran inside linebacker Vince Williams has decided to retire, bringing his eight-year NFL career to an end.

“Vince Williams notified us today that he will retire from the game of football,” said Steelers General Manager and Vice President Kevin Colbert in a statement. “We respect his decision and want to thank him for his time with us as he consistently showed great character and leadership in addition to his contributions on the field. We wish Vince and his family all the best.”

The announcement was a mild surprise, because Williams signed a new contract for 2021 in mid-April, just a month after the team terminated his existing deal to save $4 million against the salary cap.

In fact, he was likely to remain a significant contributor in 2021, even though there are now two younger players—Devin Bush and Robert ‘Front of the Plane’ Spillane—ahead of him in the pecking order, as noted by Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. With Williams gone, the Steelers will need rookie fourth-round pick Buddy Johnson (Texas A&M) to show he’s capable of filling a reserve role, with third-year player Ulysees Gilbert III also a possible option, though Gilbert has had difficulty staying healthy.

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Vince Williams is a Former Sixth-Round Pick

Williams, 31, came to the Steelers in the sixth-round of the 2013 NFL Draft, selected No. 206 overall out of Florida State. In 121 career games (69 starts) he amassed 479 total tackles (333 solo), with 20.5 sacks, 50 tackles for loss and 45 quarterback hits, not to mention six fumble recoveries and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

He was still plenty impactful in his final NFL season, starting 14 games and contributing 70 tackles, plus three sacks and a career high 14 tackles for loss, the latter of which ranked fifth-most in the NFL.

Certainly, Pittsburgh got great value from its selection of Williams in the 2013 Draft. As noted by Steelers.com, “only 10 players from Williams’ draft class played in more NFL games over his career and all 10 players were drafted ahead of [him].”


Steelers Announce the Signing of Kendrick Green

In other news from Wednesday, Pittsburgh officially announced the signing of third-round pick Kendrick Green (Illinois), meaning that its entire 2021 draft class is now under contract.

Green is expected to compete for the team’s starting center job, with last year’s backup J.C. Hassenauer and veteran B.J. Finney seen as his primary competition entering training camp. One of those three will be charged with replacing perennial Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey, who retired in February after 11 seasons with the organization.

“Wherever I need to play, I will play,” Green told Steelers.com. “Right now, it’s looking like center, so that is what I am ready to do. Being a center is like the quarterback of the offense. You have to have leadership qualities.”

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