PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald is retiring.
The 30-year-old announced the decision Friday, less than two weeks after his eighth season came to an end when the AFC North champion Steelers were upset by Cleveland in the opening round of the playoffs.
McDonald caught 181 passes for 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career, spending four seasons each with San Francisco and Pittsburgh. The 49ers selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft then traded him to Pittsburgh on the eve of the 2017 season.
McDonald was the Steelers' nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2020 for his work with Convoy of Hope. The group has provided nonperishable food, PPE and cleaning supplies for more than 1,000 families in western Pennsylvania during the COVID-19 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.”
The Steelers held a 2021 club option worth $5.2 million for McDonald, whose playing time diminished in 2020 after Pittsburgh signed Eric Ebron last spring and moved toward a more pass-oriented offense. McDonald caught just 15 passes for 99 yards in his final season and played just 44% of the offensive snaps, down from 69% in 2019.
“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,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "I wish he and his family nothing but the best in his retirement and his continued work to be a pillar in the community.”