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Keith Butler retiring after seven seasons as Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive coordinator

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler has informed the team he is retiring, the Steelers announced Saturday evening.

"It is an emotional day as I announce I am retiring from my football coaching career," Butler said in a statement. "I have spent every year since 1990 as a coach in the NFL and the NCAA, but the time is right for me to walk away after a successful career both playing and coaching the game I love."

Butler, 65, has been with the Steelers organization for 19 years and took over for Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator in 2015 after 12 seasons as the linebackers coach.

Butler also spent four seasons as the Cleveland Browns' linebackers coach, and he and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin worked together on the Memphis defensive staff in 1996.

Before his coaching career, Butler played linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks for 10 years from 1978 to '87.

As defensive coordinator, Butler continued the organization's tradition of a dominant pass rush. The Steelers have led the league in sacks each season since 2017. In 2021, the Steelers paced everyone with 55 team sacks, and T.J. Watt tied Michael Strahan's 2001 NFL single-season sack record with 22.5.

The Steelers' defense, though, took a step back in 2021 and often struggled against the run. The group allowed a league-worst 2,483 rushing yards and 5 yards per carry.

One option to replace Butler is likely Steelers senior defensive assistant and secondary coach Teryl Austin, who was hired by the organization in January 2019. Austin also served as the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions from 2014 to '17 and for a season with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018.