Veteran linebacker Vince Williams is retiring from the NFL.
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday that Williams informed the team of his decision.
"We respect his decision and want to thank him for his time with us as he consistently showed great character and leadership in addition to his contributions on the field," Colbert said. "We wish Vince and his family all the best."
Williams spent eight seasons in the league, all of which came with the Steelers.
The 31-year-old finishes his career with 428 tackles, 20.5 sacks and two interceptions in 121 appearances. A sixth-round draft pick in 2013, he made an immediate impact and notched 11 starts as a rookie. Over time, he emerged as a veteran leader for Pittsburgh's defense.
The Steelers released Williams in March, only for him to turn around and sign a one-year deal with the team the following month. At the time, head coach Kevin Tomlin said the move was a sign of the his dedication to the franchise:
"Vince Williams is a Pittsburgh Steeler. Vince Williams bleeds black and gold. And really, his decision to come back is really just an example of an opportunity for him to display that. I can’t say that I’m surprised by that, knowing what I’ve known about Vince and his level of commitment — not only to the game of football but to us and how we go about our business."
Williams started 14 games at inside linebacker for Pittsburgh in 2020, so his departure leaves the team in obvious need of a replacement at a relatively late stage of the offseason.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac reported Devin Bush is expected to be available for practices "right away" after suffering a torn ACL last October. That accounts for one of the two inside linebacker slots.
Robert Spillane is the likeliest candidate to start alongside Bush. The 25-year-old made 34 tackles and two sacks in 12 games last season.