While it certainly didn’t come as a surprise, today’s announcement about the termination of veteran inside linebacker Vince Williams’ contract was still unwelcome news, I think, for most fans. The eight-year veteran represents so much about what people love not just about the game of football, but about the personality of the team, and it’s unfortunate that circumstances played out as they did to reach this point.
But life goes on, both for the Steelers, who will turn to Robert Spillane, and for Williams, who told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN that he is far from done. The 31-year-old has every intention of continuing his career—hopefully, I’ll interject, outside of the AFC North.
“Caught up with Williams, who said release has been in the works for a few days”, Fowler shared via Twitter a short time after he broke the news of the veteran’s release. “Says he has a lot of football left and is eager to provide veteran leadership and play for a team that needs it”.
Caught up with Williams, who said release has been in the works for a few days. Says he has a lot of football left and is eager to provide veteran leadership and play for a team that needs it. https://t.co/P6OYCU9nhp
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 16, 2021
Williams was due to earn $4 million in base salary in 2021 as part of the final year of a three-year, $18.6 million contract extension that he signed in 2018. The team cleared more than $3 million in salary cap space with the release, after signing Cameron Sutton and Zach Banner to new two-year extensions averaging $4.5 million per season.
A sixth-round pick out of Florida State in 2013, Williams earned a little over $21 million over the course of his eight-year career, logging 69 starts in 121 games and totaling 479 tackles with 50 for loss, adding 20.5 sacks, 45 hits, two interceptions, including a touchdown, and six recovered fumbles. The most baffling figure in the history of the NFL remains the fact that Williams, among the hardest hitters of his generation, has never forced a fumble.
He would make a welcome addition, I think, on many rosters. Certainly, he would remain a great fit in Pittsburgh, but the financials given the current cap situation could not be resolved. Anybody looking for a very physical, smart, run-stuffing, signal-calling leader should give his agent a ring and inquire about his services.
Many have questioned why it took the Steelers so long to release him, given the view that it was an inevitability. It’s a fair question, to be sure. Williams mentioned that it was in the works for days. Perhaps they approached him about taking a pay cut—or it was simply a difficult conversation to have for a player who meant so much to the organization, and vice versa. It’s a sad and forced breakup, but I hope to see him have success elsewhere in 2021 and beyond.