Veteran Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Vince Williams decided to retyre at the start of the team’s training camp this week and since then his roster spot has been filled. As to why Williams decided to retire this late in the offseason Steelers, defensive coordinator Keith Butler addressed that topic during his media session after Friday’s practice.
“When Vince retired I kind of had empathy with him and how I felt when I retired, same thing, you know,” Butler said of William. “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. So, he decided he would retire. And that’s always an individual decision that you’ve got to make. When is it time? How do you know? I don’t know. Cause I didn’t think I would, I thought I had two more years.”
Earlier in the offseason, the Steelers terminated Williams’ contract and likely due to the salary he was scheduled to earn in 2021. The team ultimately signed Williams back to the offseason several weeks later only this time it was for the NFL minimum and with no guaranteed money. Not giving Williams a signing bonus upon his return was a huge sign that he might not be guaranteed a roster spot come Week 1.
Williams played eight seasons in Pittsburgh with the Steelers after being selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Florida State. He started 69 regular season games at inside linebacker for the Steelers with 14 of those coming just last season. With Williams now retired, Butler was asked on Friday how the team will go about replacing him in the defense.
“I think we’ll be okay inside, Butler said of the inside linebacker depth chart. “We’ve got a couple of good guys right there. I think [Robert] Spillane did a good job for us last year and he’ll continue to do a good job. 55 should be ready to play. So, we’re counting on him being ready to play and I think he’ll be ready to play. There’s a couple more guys that we drafted, some young guys that we want to see in pads before we make a decision. That position is determined so much by how they do in pads. What kind of personality do they have with the pads on and stuff like that. I’m a guy who likes to see people hit. If they’re not gonna hit, they’re gonna play for somebody else. That’s me.”
With Williams now retired, Robert Spillane, is pegged to be the Steelers Week 1 starter beside Devin Bush, the team’s former first round draft pick out of Michigan. Bush is returning in 2021 from a serious knee injury last season that he suffered in Week 6. The Steelers also selected inside linebacker Buddy Johnson out of Texas A&M in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft and he’s expected to make the 53-man roster as a backup.