As time goes by, I become increasingly skeptical about the notion that the salary cap for the 2021 season will come in at the floor of $175 million agreed upon between the NFL and the NFLPA last year. I’ve never thought that it would come in that low, though truthfully, I don’t know how much higher it might come. I would imagine it will be at least $180 million.
Frankly, however, even if it comes in nearly flat from last year, which would approach $200 million, the Pittsburgh Steelers will still have problems becoming cap-compliant and then working on potentially re-signing a small handful of key free agents, such as Mike Hilton and/or Cameron Sutton, Matt Feiler, and maybe, just maybe, JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Vance McDonald’s retirement may or not have helped them out a bit, as he was likely to be a target for release to save some salary cap space anyway. It still seems possible that Maurkice Pouncey might decide to retire, and that would help as well.
But the reality is that they may still have to, or choose to, make a couple of cuts based on salary cap needs in order to get the business done that they would like to get done. And Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette thinks Vince Williams is one potential name.
During a recent chat held over at the newspaper’s website, Dulac was asked about players who might potentially be released this offseason. He was given the names of Williams, Pouncey, Ben Roethlisberger, and Joe Haden. “Vince, and that’s it”, he said. “Maybe Haden, but I don’t think so. Pouncey will likely retire. And they won’t cut Ben. He may not be back, but they won’t release him”.
I’m inclined to assume that if he felt there were a player more likely than Williams to be released, then he would have mentioned that player, rather than simply sticking to the list that he was given as part of the question.
Entering his ninth season at the age of 31, Williams, a former sixth-round draft pick who has been a starter at inside linebacker for most of the past four seasons, is under contract for the 2021 season, but not beyond, making a base salary of $4 million. That is all the team would save, minus roster displacement, if they were to choose to release him.
They will, of course, be getting Devin Bush back next year, with Robert Spillane having shown well for himself prior to his injury, as a possible starting option if they did decide to let Williams go. Ulysees Gilbert III will presumably be back from his back injury as well, while they could consider targeting Avery Williams to re-sign if the price is right.