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: Repurchased
Reasoning: The Steelers recently announced a couple of reunions, re-signing quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who was an unrestricted free agent, and inside linebacker Vince Williams, whom they previously released as a salary cap casualty, returning on a lesser deal.
Vince Williams has been with the Steelers for eight years now as a sixth-round pick selected in 2013. The team just assured that he will see his ninth season in 2021 after announcing that they were bringing him back on a one-year deal.
The starting inside linebacker was due a base salary of $4 million for this upcoming season on the final year of his deal. I imagine that anybody reading this is amply familiar with the team’s salary cap situation already and why his release was made.
In hindsight, though, one might wonder if they asked him about taking a pay cut, or if not, why. Steven Nelson said that he was never approached with the opportunity to take a pay cut. But it’s not uncommon for teams to release players as cap casualties and eventually re-sign them. Even the Steelers did this once with Max Starks in 2011, sort of.
Presumably, Williams is coming back to start at inside linebacker, but it’s fair to assume that the Steelers were also prepared to move ahead with Robert Spillane, at least in the short term, starting in his place. The latter did start seven games last season while Devin Bush was out.
Will the two now share the buck linebacker position? Last season, Spillane played the mack spot when Williams was here and Bush was sidelined, and they left him on the field in passing situations that they take Williams off for, so it’s possible that Spillane garners some type of situational role.
Or the two could genuinely have an open competition for the starting job. If the Steelers weren’t prepared to move on from Williams, they wouldn’t have released him and put him on the market for anybody to sign, a move that probably said as much about their opinion of Spillane as anything.