Vance McDonald announced back on January 22 that he would be retiring from the NFL after eight seasons, the last four of which he spent as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who acquired the tight end via trade in August of 2017.
While it is a mere formality, it is worth noting that McDonald’s retirement was made ‘officially’ official today, as the daily NFL transactions list shows that he was placed on the Reserve/Retired List, marking the end of his playing career. This means that his paperwork for retirement has been submitted and accepted. His cleats are hung up, and he is moving on with his life’s work.
Back in January, during an interview with Missi Matthews for the team’s website, he said that he knew all along, well before the season started, that this would be his final season. He had bigger visions on the horizon for his future.
Going forward, he is opening a ministry on a property that he purchased in western Pennsylvania not far from the Latrobe area that will be called the Hidden Meadow Farm & Retreat, which he will run along with his wife. They have put together an extensive planning operation to get this off the ground, and they feel now is the right time.
While McDonald may have known about this all along, the 2020 season being his last was something that he didn’t spring on his teammates until the season was over. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, his closest friend on the team, was the first that he told, and he recalled how emotional that moment was.
His was not the only retirement for the Steelers this offseason, of course, as center Maurkice Pouncey also announced that he was hanging it up after 11 years and nine Pro Bowls. While his paperwork hasn’t been processed yet, it’s really more of a formality that makes it official. He could walk it back, but not everybody is Brett Favre, and as Rob Gronkowski showed, you can always unretire.
McDonald’s departure leaves a pretty blatant hole in the tight end depth chart. Behind Eric Ebron, a receiving tight end who was signed in free agency in 2020, there are only relatively inexperienced names, including 2019 fifth-round pick Zach Gentry, who spent most of the past season on the Reserve/Injured List when not a healthy scratch.
After Gentry was moved to the Reserve/Injured List, Kevin Rader was promoted from the practice squad, where he had also spent all of the 2019 season. He got a bit of playing time at the end of the season. Earlier this year, the team signed Dax Raymond and Charles Johnson to Reserve/Future contracts. Raymond had previously spent time with the team in training camp before being waived injured.