Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler is retiring, the team announced Saturday. The news was first reported by Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.
Butler, 65, has been with the Steelers since 2003 and has been defensive coordinator since 2015.
Steelers head coach Mile Tomlin said in his end-of-season press conference that Butler was considering retirement.
“Butts has had conversations about this potentially being his last year,” Tomlin said. “He and I haven’t had an opportunity to sit down. I’m doing player interviews, he’s doing player interviews. We haven’t had a detailed conversation in that regard.”
It had been reported this season that Tomlin had been doing most of the play calling on defense, and there was not a significant difference in the character of the unit when Butler missed the Week 18 game at Baltimore due to COVID-19 and Tomlin and senior defensive assistant Teryl Austin replaced him.
Tomlin acknowledged that the defense did not perform up to expectations this season.
“Defensively, we didn’t play as well as we’d like, either,” Tomlin said. “We’ve got to be better in that area.”
The Steelers finished 2021 21st in yards allowed per play, 27th in total yards and 20th in points allowed.
Tomlin has had just two defensive coordinators in his 15 years as Steelers head coach, with Dick LeBeau running things from 2007-14 and Butler starting in 2015.