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Steelers Transactions

Steelers TE Vance McDonald Retires

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Steelers tight end Vance McDonald will retire after eight NFL seasons, the team announced on Friday.

McDonald, 30, spent the last four seasons with the Steelers as the team’s primary starting tight end.

“My family and I are so grateful for everything NFL football has provided us in our life — all the memories both good and the difficult, the relationships and friends we’ve made along the way, the life lessons the game provided both me and my loved ones,” McDonald said in a team press release. “It’s always been our dream and mission to leverage the platform given us through the NFL to help serve and uplift others along the way, and we will continue to find ways to serve others as we begin this next chapter of our lives. I am proud to retire a Steeler.”

Since joining the team in a trade from San Francisco before the 2017 season, McDonald started 47 games in Pittsburgh, catching 117 passes for 1,170 yards and eight touchdowns. 

McDonald will finish his eight-year career with 2,036 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns after being selected by the 49ers in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Rice.

In 2020, McDonald had yielded significant playing time to Eric Ebron at tight end, playing less than 50% of the team’s offensive snaps when healthy for the first time with the Steelers. Ebron played in 69.7% of the team’s offensive snaps compared to 44% for McDonald.

McDonald was a likely salary cap casualty as the Steelers entered the offseason an estimated $35 million over the cap. His retirement will save the team $5.2 million in cap obligations for 2021 before replacement. The Steelers will carry a $2.7 million dead cap hit this season to pay off a 2020 contract restructuring.

This season, McDonald was recognized for his work in the community as the Steelers’ nominee for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

Steelers Transactions

Report: Steelers Restructure Contract of DL Cam Heyward

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The Steelers have restructured the contract of veteran defensive lineman Cam Heyward, according to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Heyward is entering the first season of a four-year, $71.4 million contact extension that he signed last September.

His contract calls for a $4.5 million salary and a $6 million roster bonus for the 2021 season, along with $4.05 million of prorated signing bonus for a total salary cap hit of $14.55 million.

With a full restructure, all of Heyward’s roster bonus and his salary for 2021, save for the $1.075 veteran minimum, will be converted into a signing bonus, paid out now and spread out of the four years of the contract for salary cap purposes.

That will make Heyward’s salary cap hit for 2021 $7.481 million, a savings of nearly $7 million.

Heyward is one of only a couple players the Steelers can restructure this offseason, along with fellow defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt and kicker Chris Bowell. The team is not expected to be able to get under the salary cap with restructures alone, and releasing or extending players may also be required.

Heyward, 31, started 15 games for the Steelers in 2020, recording 54 tackles, seven for a loss and four sacks. He also had 19 quarterback hits, three passes defended and an interception.

After the season, Heyward was named second-team Associated Press NFL All-Pro, the third time in his career he’s been named an All-Pro player. He was also selected to the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl, the fourth straight season he was elected to play in that game.

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Steelers Transactions

Steelers Sign OT Aviante Collins to Future Contract

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The Steelers have signed free agent tackle Aviante Collins to a future contract for the 2021 season, the team announced on Tuesday.

Collins, 27, visited with the Steelers on Jan. 22. He spent the last four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings after joining that team as an undrafted free agent out of TCU in 2017.

Collins played in three games in 2017 and two in 2019 for the Vikings, and spent all of the 2020 season on the practice squad, except for a one-week elevation in Week 11, in which he did not play.

The 6-foot-4, 292-pound tackle its a free agent after the Vikings decided to allow his practice squad contract to expire at the end of the season.

The Steelers have several free agents at the tackle position, including longtime starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, 2019 starting right tackle Matt Feiler and 2020 starting right tackle Zach Banner and backup Jerald Hawkins.

The Steelers have 2020 starting right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor under contract and Anthony Coyle, Jarron Jones, John Leglue and Brandon Walton signed to futures contract.

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Steelers Transactions

Former Steelers QB Devlin Hodges Signs with LA Rams

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Former Steelers starting quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges has signed a future contract with the Los Angeles Rams for the 2021 season, he announced on Twitter on Sunday.

Hodges signed with the Steelers in 2019 on a rookie camp tryout out of Samford. He earned a contract at rookie camp and impressed in training camp, causing the team to feel comfortable trading third-string quarterback Josh Dobbs to Jacksonville.

After injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph, Hodges was pushing into service, playing in eight games and starting six for the team in 2019.

Hodges threw for 1,063 yards while completing 62.5% of his passes. He threw for five touchdowns and eight interceptions for a 71.4 quarterback rating. The Steelers went 3-3 in games Hodges started.

After the Steelers re-acquired Josh Dobbs in the 2020 offseason, Hodges was bumped to fourth on the team’s depth chart and was not activated at any point during the 2020 season.

The Steelers replaced Hodges by signing former Washington first-round pick Dwayne Haskins to a reserve/future contract last week.

Hodges, wide receiver Deon Cain, running back Wendell Smallwood and kicker Matthew Wright were the only four players that finished the season on the Steelers’ practice squad that were not retained by the team.

Cain has signed with the Baltimore Ravens, while Wright has inked a contract to join then Detroit Lions.

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