Beginning today and for the next few days, we are likely doing to experience a flurry of transactions not just with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but really, throughout the league. Though they’ve gotten into cap compliance, there is still quite a bit of work to do against the salary cap in Pittsburgh, and one wonders if that might still involve a cut or two.
The most likely candidate to be released, if it comes to that, remains eight-year veteran inside linebacker Vince Williams, who is due to make $4 million in base salary this year. The team could save over $3 million in cap space after roster displacement with the move.
Whether or not that would be worth it could be determined by the rest of the room. They naturally have to count on Devin Bush coming back healthy. With Robert Spillane now inked to a one-year deal, he would be an obvious candidate to move into the starting lineup.
But Avery Williamson could be another name in the mix, whether to start or just to be brought back for depth. One way or another, I think the Steelers would be justified to at least keep themselves apprised of what the veteran’s market will be.
While he is no longer the player he once was, now 29 years old and having gone through a major knee injury in 2019, Williamson is still a guy who is around the ball and can rack up the tackles. He put up 52 tackles with the Steelers last season in just over 300 snaps over eight games and four starts.
Back in 2018, he was a fairly high commodity, and ended up signing a three-year deal with the New York Jets worth $22.5 million, which was out of Pittsburgh’s price range, even though they were in the market for the position at the time, settling on Jon Bostic at two years for $4 million.
Since signing that deal, he has played one full season of more than 1100 snaps, missed an entire season with a torn ACL, and gone through a trade in a year in which he only started a total of 10 games, four only coming due to injury, and playing behind a former undrafted free agent who had been a special teamer.
Add in the depleted free agency market stemming from the economic ramifications of the pandemic, shifting the salary cap back about $25 million from where it ought to be, and you have a very different scenario from what we might see.
Players like Williamson might find themselves better off taking one-year deals with teams they’re familiar with and where they would have a clear shot at at least competing to start, and trying again next year. I’m not sure if he could be had for the veteran minimum, but, particularly in the event that they part with Williams, they should keep their ears open all the same.