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: Down
Reasoning: While he largely seemed to stay away from OTAs this year, impressions from the beat writers seem to indicate that it’s pretty clear the Steelers’ intention is for Robert Spillane to be the starting buck linebacker this year.
Outside of Cameron Heyward, no defender has been with the Steelers longer than Vince Williams, who was released earlier this offseason in a cap-saving maneuver. He later opted to re-sign for the veteran minimum—and likely for a minimal role to go with it.
Piecing together various reports, my impression is that Williams did not attend OTAs, or at least only lightly attended. It was made equally clear that Spillane is very much in line to start, which had to have been the team’s plan when they first decided to release Williams, meaning that it should be no surprise.
But Williams has been a starter for the better part of the last half-decade, and played well for the most part as recently as last season. There was a time when he and T.J. Watt were tied for the league lead in tackles for loss before the latter pulled away.
Now 31 years old, Williams understands that he is nearing the end of his career, whether by his choice or otherwise. When he first re-signed, it was reported that he was contemplating it as his last season before possibly trying to enter the coaching ranks, which I certainly believe would be fitting for him.
Outside of the 2019 season, Williams has averaged about 700 defensive snaps per season. That one year, the team brought in Mark Barron as a starter, and then drafted Devin Bush, leaving him in a support role.
That figures to be where he plays this year as well behind Bush and Spillane, assuming he even plays that much. He logged close to 400 snaps that season, but if the starters stay healthy, it would be pretty unlikely that he sees that much time on the field.