The Steelers are not planning to replace their offensive coordinator, but they will have a new defensive leader next season. Longtime DC Keith Butler informed the team he is retiring, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.
Butler has been in place as Pittsburgh’s DC since Dick LeBeau‘s 2015 exit. The Steelers delivered up-and-down work during Butler’s tenure, but they had trended upward during the second half of his stay. Butler, 65, has been with the Steelers since 2003, working as the team’s linebackers coach for over a decade prior to his promotion. The Steelers had given Butler a one-year extension in 2021.
A former Seahawks starting linebacker in the 1970s and ’80s, Butler has been an NFL assistant since 1999, when he broke into the league as linebackers coach for the expansion Browns team. In Butler’s 19 seasons in Pittsburgh, he oversaw the work of numerous standout linebackers — from James Harrison to LaMarr Woodley to Ryan Shazier to T.J. Watt — and was part of three Super Bowl staffs as a position coach.
While the Steelers’ defense came up short in some home playoff spots during Butler’s tenure, the unit also did plenty to help the team into postseason fields in recent years. The Steelers remain on a stellar streak in the sack department, having led the NFL in this category five seasons running. This year, Pittsburgh’s 55 sacks — an NFL-record-tying 22.5 from Watt — were four more than any other team’s total. That helped an offensively limited team back to the playoffs. This season’s Steelers defense was less impressive as a whole, ranking just 24th in yards allowed. But Butler’s troops had ranked in the top six in this category from 2017-20.
With the Steelers expected to make their first quarterback transition during Mike Tomlin‘s tenure, the 15-year veteran HC will be tasked with making a key hire that will spearhead a veteran defense. Tomlin made a change on the offensive side last year, replacing Randy Fichtner with Matt Canada.
27 comments on “Steelers DC Keith Butler To Retire”
Dang, Pittsburgh is going to have to replace some important positions next year, between Ben, Colbert, and Butler. It’s going to be interesting to see how and what they do to do so, especially with the existing holes already that need to be filled.
Sadly, as a Steelers fan, I already know all 3 positions are going to be replaced from within.
Yeah, sadly, because they havent had a great model for success.
The Steelers failing to win the Super Bowl every single year is nothing less than a personal affront to the fans.
“Retire” just like Arians did 10yrs ago, right?
Well that’s a surprise.
Star-studded defense and still ranked sub-20th in overall defensive rankings? This is a blessing in disguise for Pittsburgh. Whether it’s hiring Martinsdale, Zimmer, Fangio, promoting from within, or another prime target, find someone who can actually capitalize on a fantastic defensive roster.
I’d love any of the three guys you named. Unfortunately they will probably stay in-house again…
The ultimate move would be to grab Fangio and somehow he convinces Munchak to come back to the Burgh with him
Other than Fitz and Watt, who else is star level? Haden? Nope. Hayward? Starting to show his age, unfortunately. Bush? Probably not around next year – never played at his draft pick level.
Heyward had possibly his best season yet but your point still stands. This was not nearly as good of a defense as in previous years. Losing Alualu and Tuitt hurt a lot, but there was still a lot of mediocrity and worse on defense this year in Pittsburgh.
You lost me when you said Heyward’s age is showing… he arguably just had the best season of his career
Watch the games. Name is called in the first half – does his thing, second half you wonder if he’s in on as many snaps. Good numbers, but beginning to slow down.
I watched every game. Heyward was being double and triple teamed but was still making a huge impact in every game, in both halves.
Agree but not Heyward!
This might be a surprise to some, but it’s been speculated by many. A lot of critics will tell you that Tomlin has been the de facto defensive coordinator for years. In any event I’d put it at 75% that Teryl Austin takes over as DC, if he wants to.
Doesn’t matter who has the title of defensive coordinator. Tomlin runs the defense.
Winner winner. Butler was coordinator in name only.
Can he take Canada and Tomlin with him. Get a clean slate, so they can win a playoff game.
This team, as it was constructed, was extremely fortunate to even be in position to win a playoff game. Changing the coaching staff would not have made a difference. In fact, their pythagorean record was 7-10
I love the idiotic comments about Tomlin. This team should not have sniffed the playoffs this year. Most any team would love to have him as their coach yet so called Steelers fans just need to complain about a guy who has never had a losing season
Absolutely agree with you. Tomlin has been consistent, a winner, and will hopefully get the team through a rebuild. He’s done more than Cowher, yet doesn’t get the same respect.
I’m not as solidly in Tomlin’s corner as I used to be, but any objective critic should see that this year was one of his best coaching jobs yet. That team shouldn’t have sniffed the postseason. They made some critical offseason errors in roster construction (of which Tomlin bears a portion of the blame, no doubt) but with a Big Ben at his expiration date, the worst Steeler offensive line I’ve seen in at least 30 years, and a defense sorely lacking in playmakers and guys who can tackle, they found a way into the postseason. There is something to be said for that.
Curiously, how can Tomlin be given credit for a defensive-MVP-caliber season from
TJ Watt and a retiring-soon-to-be-HOF QB of Ben??
Let’s see how he (Tomlin) does with Rudolph, a Colbert-less driven team manager, and sole responsibility for an offensive line that was atrocious at best. We all know Canada won’t be blamed.
Tomlin’s course has been ran. It’s time for a change. Look at his last 6 seasons. Convince me otherwise. I’ll wait………
Except Ben didn’t play like a HOF QB this year and let’s face it, Colbert isn’t really calling the D plays – that’s mostly Tomlin. When Tomlin was hired, his style was perfect for what the Steelers were and continued that legacy.
100% dead on! It’s not that Tomlin is not a good or even great coach but after time the message gets old. He will thrive with a new challenge!
Tomlin critics fall into one of two categories.
People who (as described above) think the Steelers must win the Lombardi every year or else it’s the same as the team spitting in their face.
And people who are uncomfortable with his melanin level.
Dude almost made the playoffs with something called Duck Hodges as his starting QB one year.