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: Sold
Reasoning: About a week and a half ago, the Steelers officially released Vince Williams and his $4 million base salary, with the expectation that Robert Spillane will start in his place, barring another addition.
While this is a bit of an old news item by now, as I try to spread out such moves over time regarding signings, re-signings, and releases, Vince Williams certainly merits inclusion here after the team released him earlier this month on the eve of the new league year.
Up until his release, Williams was the second-longest tenured defender on the team behind Cameron Heyward, having originally been a 2013 draft pick via the sixth round out of Florida State. While not be design, he actually ended up ‘starting’ for most of his rookie year after Larry Foote was injured in the opener.
Then, of course, they drafted Ryan Shazier, which he was frustrated by at the time, but they would grow to become very dear friends over time. And then he got the chance to start next to Shazier after Lawrence Timmons left in free agency.
He has been the Steelers’ primary buck linebacker over the course of the past four seasons, excepting the 2019 season, when they tried to bring in Mark Barron for a starting role, which led to him being released a year later.
That put Williams back in the starting lineup, starting 14 games—he missed due dealing with Covid-19, registering 17 tackles, including a career-high 14 for loss, and three sacks, as well as two recovered fumbles.
Though he is now 31 years old, it would still surprise me if he doesn’t land somewhere sooner rather than later. Whoever does end up signing him will be getting a true thumper and a guy who can really make a lot of plays around the line of scrimmage. The Steelers are hoping Robert Spillane can manage as much, at least in the interim.