The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: Would Vince Williams have been at risk of missing the 53-man roster had he not retired?
By the sounds of it, Vince Williams’ decision to retire just before the start of training camp took the team, including his coaches and teammates, by surprise. Ben Roethlisberger said he’d just talked to the linebacker a couple weeks prior, and they were both excited about giving it another go.
That alone raises some questions. Why did he suddenly decide to retire? Did he think that doing so was what was best for the team? For one thing, it leaves the door clearly open for Robert Spillane to fully own the Buck linebacker position. It also gives Ulysees Gilbert III and rookie Buddy Johnson the chance to take over backup positions.
Back during OTAs, it didn’t seem as though Williams was even around. “All of us think we can play longer than we can play, and I think Vince just realized at the time that his body wasn’t ready to play and he wasn’t ready to play”, defensive coordinator Keith Butler said on Friday.
Williams is 31 years old. There wasn’t any obviously apparent drop in his game last season. But we haven’t seen him this year. He also got cut, and came back for $3 million less. That can be a motivational blow. They have Marcus Allen and Miles Killebrew fighting for roster spots as well. So the question is, was he going to make the team if he were here? Was he concerned that the may not?