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Steelers All 90: Rodney Williams Proved His Worth Last Year But Will Need to Again in 2024



Steelers Rodney Williams

The 2024 season will mark the third year in Pittsburgh for depth tight end Rodney Williams. After climbing up the depth chart and finding his way onto the field as a special teamer last year, Williams is steadfast about continuing his success on that unit but additionally wants to get some time on offense.

“Right now, I am trying to show that I am more than just a special teams guy,” Williams told Alan Saunders of Steelers Now. “I feel like I had pretty decent year on special teams last year which I plan to continue this year and step up but I also want to showcase my offensive ability as well.”

While it was hard for any of the tight ends to showcase their ability in Matt Canada’s offense, under new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, the tight end group is expected to be featured in the offensive gameplay much more in 2024.

“He has a lot of different ways that to get the tight ends involved in the offense,” Williams said. “Just going through the playbook, it is different in the way that we are attacking defenses, more deception, things of that nature so we are excited about it.”

Whether it is because of the coach or their excitement of being featured more, the tight ends, and especially Williams, understand what they are asked to do and more importantly, why it needs done on each and every play.

“I will say that it is more so due to the way that it has been installed or explained,” Williams explained. “[The playbook] has kind of been installed with more so of an overall plan showing how are going to attack them, what we are looking for and things of that nature. It’s definitely more of an understanding going in of that stuff.”

While Williams wants to be apart of the team’s offensive attack, with the addition of MyCole Pruitt, a familiar face for Smith, Williams finds himself slotted below a handful of tight ends on the Steelers roster.

Pat Freiermuth will be the one most featured with rumors that he may line up as a wide receiver in certain sets. Darnell Washington will be the team’s main blocking tight end while Connor Heyward will be Smith’s “gadget” guy. This leaves little room for Williams on the offense meaning he is more likely to be a special teams guy if he can even crack the roster.

While he played well on the unit last season, under the new kickoff rules, Williams is adjusting his routine to better suit what needs done.

“It’s a little different as far as how we attack the blocker on the kickoff so I am working some new moves,” Williams said. “I don’t want to say too much but I am working some new moves, different ways to attack them. Just trying to find the best way to get to the ball.”

Penciled in as the team’s fifth tight end, Williams will have to prove his worth on special teams if he wants a chance to be on the 53-man roster come the team’s first game in September.

87 • Rodney Williams, Tight End, UT-Martin
6-foot-4, 235 pounds, 26 years old, 3rd Season

Acquired: The Steelers signed Williams to the team’s practice squad on Sept. 13, 2022, following his release by the Denver Broncos.

Last SeasonAfter not appearing in a single regular season game in 2022, Williams dressed for 13 games in 2023. While he did log 55 offensive snaps and two targets, Williams has yet to catch a pass in a regular season game. Most of Williams playing time came on special teams in 2o23 as he played 189 snaps on that unit and recorded six tackles.

Career: After going undrafted in the 2022 NFL Draft, Williams signed an undrafted free-agent deal with the Denver Broncos. He stayed with the Broncos through training camp but the team released him prior to the season. The Steelers signed Williams to their practice squad after Week 1 of 2022.

Williams stayed on the Steelers’ practice squad through the end of the season and re-signed with the team this offseason.

Steelers tight end Rodney Williams

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Rodney Williams (87) catches a pass before a game at Acrisure Stadium. Photo by Ed Thompson // Steelers Now

Year GP Targets Receptions Yards AVG TDs PFF Rating
2022 0 0 0 0 0 0
2023 13 2 0 0 0 0 45.9

CollegeWilliams graduated from Germantown High School and decided to continue his football career at UT Martin, an FCS school. As a freshman in 2016, Williams played in eight games at wide receiver and on special teams. He recorded four receptions for 78 yards on the season.

In 2017, Williams appeared in 10 games for the Skyhawks at wide receiver and caught four passes for 32 yards. As a junior, Williams enjoyed his best season as a wide receiver. He hauled in 23 receptions for 252 yards as he averaged 11 yards per catch.

Williams played in four games and started three of them at wide receiver before he suffered a season-ending injury. The NCAA allowed Williams to redshirt due to his limited action.

Prior to his redshirt senior season, Williams converted to tight end and immediately made a huge impact for the Skyhawks. In 2020, Williams played in all seven games and recorded his best collegiate season to that point. He finished the season with 30 receptions for 327 yards and a career-high four receiving touchdowns. Williams earned All-OVC Second-Team honors for his outstanding play.

In his final season as a Skyhawk, Williams started all 13 games at tight end and tallied 29 receptions for 417 yards, and three touchdowns. He earned second-team All-OVC honors for the second consecutive season in 2021.

Over his six total seasons at UT Martin, Williams appeared in 53 games for the Skyhawks, including 20 at tight end. He finished his collegiate career with 99 receptions, 1,217 receiving yards, and seven receiving touchdowns.

Year GP Position Receptions Yards AVG TDs
2016 8 WR 4 78 19.5 0
2017 10 WR 4 32 8.0 0
2018 11 WR 23 252 11.0 0
2019 4 WR 9 111 12.3 0
2020 7 TE 30 327 10.9 4
2021 13 TE 29 417 14.4 3

Salary cap and future: Williams is signed with the Steelers through the end of the 2024 season. Following the season, Williams will become an exclusive-rights free agent. OverTheCap listed Williams 2024 cap hit as $915,000 but since it is all in base salary, the team could release him at any point and not incur any dead money.

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