The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks the fifth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—a new record for the franchise since the merger. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-7-1 and making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from the majority of the offensive line to Mike Hilton, Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Vince Williams—not to mention Stephon Tuitt, essentially.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2021 season.
Player: Robert Spillane
Experience: 3 Years
While I felt that it might be a bit up in the air as to whether or not they would decide to do it, the Steelers did ultimately place a restricted free agent tender on fourth-year inside linebacker Robert Spillane, which will cost him over $2 million provided that he makes the 53-man roster.
Initially projected as a full-time starter at the outset of training camp last year—especially after Vince Williams retired—Spillane was thrown a curveball when the Steelers made a trade for established starter and former Pro Bowler Joe Schobert.
Schobert immediately came in and started, playing next to Devin Bush, but Spillane continued to have a role, and that only increased as the season wore on. He was eventually given their dime linebacker role, with both Bush and Schobert coming off the field when they put six defensive backs out there.
He still managed to play nearly 350 defensive snaps, with another 250 or so on special teams, where he originally carved out his value. He finished the 2021 season with a career-high 56 tackles, but those would be the only stats he would register. Even though he played in dime, thus in obvious passing situations, he’s not credited with contesting a single pass. Pro Football Reference charges him with 16 receptions allowed on 24 targets for 161 yards, though for no touchdowns.
The fact that they were willing to tender him—albeit on a right-of-first-refusal deal, meaning that any team could attempt to sign him without having to give anything up, but the Steelers could match any contract offer if they choose—obviously signals that he remains in their plans for 2022, but now with the addition of Myles Jack, it’s certainly unlikely to be a role any more robust than last season.