Williams appreciates Steelers’ investment
While Vince Williams was speaking with the media for the first time since becoming a rich(er) man Wednesday, Antonio Brown talked up his teammate from his neighboring locker.
“Tell them they (the front office) got a steal, Vinny!” Brown yelled at one point.
Under terms of the three-year extension he signed Tuesday, Williams isn’t making the kind of money Brown is seeking as he awaits his own extension. But that doesn’t mean Williams wasn’t happy to get the deal done.
“Just to be able to (stay with) the organization that took a chance on me in the draft, it just feels fantastic,” Williams said.
Before the extension, the 26-year-old Williams had been entering the final year of the rookie contract he signed as a sixth-round pick in 2013. He’s proven to be a more-than-capable backup to the first rounders the Steelers have starting at inside linebacker, Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons.
Williams also started 11 games as a rookie in 2013 (the year before the Steelers drafted Shazier) and has proven a valuable special-teams contributor. The 300 special-teams snaps Williams played last season across almost every specialty unit ranked second among Steelers defensive players behind only then-special teams captain Robert Golden, according to footballoutsiders.com.
Still, this extension perhaps signifies the Steelers view Williams as one of their starting inside linebackers of the future, alongside Shazier. Timmons is 30, entering his 10th season and — most notably — is also entering the final year of his contract.
For Williams’ part, he doesn’t see extensions for both him and Timmons to be mutually exclusive.
“I think we both can contribute,” Williams said of his fellow Florida State alum. “I think ‘LT’ is an amazing player, a Pro Bowl-caliber player, actually, so as many years I get to play with this man, I consider that a privilege.”
While Williams said he “definitely” believes he has “starter ability,” he was emphatic that he is “definitely not a starter” now.
Williams was scheduled to make a paltry-by-NFL-standards $675,000 this season (terms of the new deal have not been disclosed). Despite most of the outside attention being on Timmons when it comes to contract-year Steelers linebackers, Williams said he wasn’t surprised management approached him, and he wasn’t preoccupied with a desire to work out a new deal.
“I’m really just happy with what I got,” Williams said. “Happy to be a part of this, happy that the Rooneys see the potential in me, happy that (general manager) Kevin Colbert came and talked to me about a new contract. I’m just happy.”
The sentiment across the Steelers locker room was similar. The gregarious Williams is popular among teammates.
“That’s the man. You know, straight ‘Beast,’ ” said linebacker Arthur Moats, invoking Williams nickname. “Guy has an incredible work ethic. He’s one of those guys that he brings it every day. …
“To see a guy like that get that money, man, you’re proud of him. You’re happy for him.”