TE Vance McDonald retires, saving Pittsburgh Steelers $5.2M against salary cap

PITTSBURGH — After four years with the Steelers, tight end Vance McDonald announced his retirement from the NFL through the team Friday morning.

In his final season with the Steelers, McDonald had 15 catches for 99 yards. He missed two games after testing positive for COVID-19 and spent the time quarantined on his farm outside Pittsburgh.

McDonald was also the Steelers’ 2020 nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his work with Convoy of Hope, an organization that, among other things, supplied goods and PPE to families in Western Pennsylvania during the coronavirus pandemic.

“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 statement. “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.”

McDonald’s retirement saves the cap-strapped Steelers $5.2 million in 2021. With Eric Ebron under contract, McDonald’s option was not likely to be picked up by the Steelers, who also have Zach Gentry, who finished the season on injured reserve, under contract and signed two other tight ends to reserve/futures contracts.

McDonald, 30, was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft and joined the Steelers through a trade in 2017.

Known for his stiff arm of Chris Conte on a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown in 2018, McDonald retires with 181 receptions for 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns in 101 games over an eight-year career. With the Steelers, he had 117 receptions for 1,170 yards and eight touchdowns.

“I am appreciative of Vance’s contributions during the last four years of his career that he spent in Pittsburgh,” coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. “He was a class act on and off the field, leading many of our efforts in the community while also being a voice for our social justice efforts and the community work during the pandemic. I wish he and his family nothing but the best in his retirement and his continued work to be a pillar in the community.”

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