Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: ILB Vince Williams
Stock Value: Even
Reasoning: Despite returning to the starting lineup on a full-time basis in 2020, Vince Williams perhaps finds himself in a precarious position this offseason as the Steelers evaluate their financial commitments relative to a dire salary cap situation.
You’re probably not going to find a player in the NFL today who seemingly better embodies the concept of ‘being a Steelers’ in the minds of most fans than Vince Williams, which is why he has long been something of a fan favorite, a guy you can simply tell loves playing football, and playing it the way the Steelers play it.
And he’s pretty good at it, too. Even though he played under 650 snaps this past season, Williams still managed to put up a very impressive 14 tackles for loss, among 70 total tackles, which accounted for the second-most he has had in a single season in his career. He had three sacks and a couple of recovered fumbles on top of that.
Williams was an important component in particular to their run defense, and when he missed time due to Covid-19, you could see the difference—though that also had to do with the talent that they had to fill in at the time, such as Marcus Allen, whom they’re trying to turn into a linebacker.
But given the Steelers’ salary cap situation, one has to wonder how safe he is. While he is only due to make $4 million in base salary this season, that is a little over $3 million that they could save toward the salary cap after displacement.
With Devin Bush coming back from missing most of last season due to a torn ACL, and Robert Spillane seemingly showing last season that he could potentially slide into that buck role, the front office will have to decide if they feel they can move on from Williams, and if the cap savings would be worth it.