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Steelers’ Williams decides to retire

NFL notes

Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Vince Williams (98) celebrates recovering a fumble as he plays in an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

PITTSBURGH — Vince Williams isn’t sticking with the Pittsburgh Steelers after all.

The veteran linebacker announced his retirement Wednesday on the eve of training camp, just months after taking a pay cut to return for a ninth season.

The 31-year-old Williams appeared in 121 games for the Steelers after making the team as a sixth-round pick out of Florida State in 2013. He carved out early in his career as a special teams ace and then became one of the more physical inside linebackers in the NFL, forming a close bond with Ryan Shazier before Shazier’s career-ending back injury late in the 2017 season.

The Steelers released Williams in a salary-cap move in March — a decision that saved the club $4 million — then re-signed him to a one-year deal a month later.

Williams collected 20.5 sacks during his career. He was expected to compete with Rob Spillane for a starting spot next to Devin Bush in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense.

“Vince Williams notified us today that he will retire from the game of football,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “We respect his decision and want to thank him for his time with us as he consistently showed great character and leadership in addition to his contributions on the field. We wish Vince and his family the best.”

49ers sign Warner

The San Francisco 49ers agreed on a five-year contract extension with Fred Warner that makes him the highest-paid off-ball linebacker in the NFL.

A person familiar with the deal said Wednesday that the extension that runs through 2026 is worth about $95 million with $40.5 million in guarantees.

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