The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been one of the most respected franchises in football, and what they’re doing this offseason is adding to their loyalty.
Vince Williams was never considered the “future of Pittsburgh,” and until last season wasn’t much more than a special teams player who would fill in on defense when needed.
Now, he’s the starting inside linebacker next to Ryan Shazier and isn’t the best option for Pittsburgh. With Daryl Washington and David Harris floating around free agency, the Steelers could boost their linebacker core with a star inside linebacker.
Instead, they’re allowing Williams to earn his place on this team. Entering his sixth year in the league, Williams has never really had a bad season, but he’s never really had a great one either. So, Keith Butler decided that when the team moved on from Lawrence Timmons, that Williams would be the first option to earn his keep on this defense.
It’s worked in the past with players like James Harrison and Brett Keisel. Instead of going out and finding the big name free agent, Pittsburgh allows their own to compete for the job first. If they like what they see, it’s their job to lose. For Harrison and Keisel, their opportunities turned into All-Pro results.
Williams is a fan favorite already. The city of Pittsburgh loves when they can turn players who’ve stuck with the origination, into stars. With what we’ve seen from Williams over the last five years, he’s worth giving the job to, even over Pro Bowl caliber players like Harris and Washington.
“I’m really humbled,” Williams told John Perrotto of FanRag Sports. “I’m humbled because we had an opportunity to get some more linebackers in free agency. We had an opportunity to draft a first-round linebacker and we didn’t. That shows that the organization has a lot of confidence in me. That’s the first time I’ve felt that way.”
Williams is the man right now. Of course, that can change with an unproductive season. But from what he’s shown throughout his career, he may be ready to take on a starting role in Pittsburgh.
It’s a respect thing with this team. They show their team that they come first and outsiders are second. That’s why they never go out and get the big name free agent, or draft a new starting quarterback while Ben Roethlisberger is still playing.
They take guys who are willing to learn and contribute when the time is ready. This offseason, Williams was ready, and the Pittsburgh Steelers knew that. So, as they’ve done throughout the history of this franchise; they gave Williams the respect he’s given them while waiting for his shot.