Steelers ‘All-In’ After Acquiring LB Williamson

It has been quite the 2020 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers thus far. In addition to beating (Some say upsetting)the Baltimore Ravens to improve their record to 7-0 (For the first time since the 1978 season), the Steelers made a move late Sunday as if to inform the NFL and media that if you didn’t think we’re serious, then how you like us now?

(Photo Courtesy of Pittsburgh Steelers Twitter)

They acquired inside Line Backer  Avery Williamson from the NY Jets in exchange for the Jets their fifth- round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Steelers also receive the Jets seventh-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.

It shows that the Steelers continue to turn a new leaf when it comes to fixing their team. (Ex: Trading for S Minkah Fitzpatrick) In years past, if the Steelers experienced injuries to one of their starters, they stubbornly stuck to the ‘Next Man Up’ philosophy. Meaning: If the starter goes down, then they would rely on who was next on the depth chart.

Such was the case with their inside LB spot when starter Devin Bush was lost for the season after tearing his ACL vs. the Cleveland Browns 2 weeks ago. Enter his backup, Robert Spillaine, who has played admirably in the past 2 games, and true to form, the Steelers made it plain that they would rely on Spillaine’s new backups: Ulysses Gilbert III and Marcus Allen, who was converted from the Safety position.

Only problem was, (in addition to hardly any NFL experience), Gilbert was injured and contenders should not have to rely on a converted Safety at inside LB. Plus even though Spillaine is playing his heart out, he caused concern when it appeared he injured his shoulder after slamming into Tennessee Titans All-Pro RB Derrick Henry. Plus, he is slightly suspect in pass coverage.

Needless to say, the Steelers knew they had to do something to shore up their depth at the position and Sunday night, they made the trade, 2 days before the NFL Trade Deadline.

“We’ll utilize all of the tools at our disposal to fortify our depth and present the strongest football team. Sometimes different journeys create different challenges, and we’re just responding to what we believe is appropriate to the challenges that this journey is providing to us.”-Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin at his weekly news conference.

“We know that we’ve lost Devin Bush and lost Devin Bush for 2020, but additionally to that in recent weeks Ulysses Gilbert has been less than available with a back (injury).” Said Tomlin. “So at the trade deadline we thought it was necessary, if we had an opportunity, to get a known commodity, one like Avery Williamson who we were somewhat familiar with and who was somewhat familiar with our schematics, and put him into the fold.”

Drafted in 2014 out of Kentucky (Where he played with LB Bud Dupree) by the Titans, Williamson then signed as a free agent with the Jets in 2018. Like Bush, he also tore his ACL,

but missed the 2019 season. He’s shown no signs of injury in 2020 as he started six games for the Jets in 2020, and has 59 tackles, which includes 36 solo stops, as well as three pass defenses and one interception. In 2018, he had a team-high 120 tackles.

It is not determined if Williamson will be available to play Sunday vs. the Dallas Cowboys, but Tomlin made it plain how his new linebacker will best benefit the team “From a long-term standpoint, we have a vision of him, being a third inside linebacker, a guy that’s position flexible, a guy that is capable of supporting Robert and Vince Williams and being available if anything should happen to either.”-Said Tomlin

Notes: Also in his weekly news conference, Tomlin gave the latest injury report: “There were some injuries that happened in-game, and player availability will be determined by their ability to work (in practice) this week and the quality of that work. That would be Tyson Alualu (knee) and Cam Heyward (quad). Mike Hilton (shoulder) continues to work his way back from his injury. We’re more optimistic about Cam Heyward, and it’s a wait-and-see regarding Tyson.” Tomlin also stated that Derek Watt (hamstring) and Jordan Dangerfield (quad) should be able to practice without restrictions this week.

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