Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: ILB Robert Spillane
Stock Value: Even
Reasoning: While the Steelers did release one starter at inside linebacker in Joe Schobert, they also turned around and signed Myles Jack; yet at the end of the day, they did give Spillane a restricted free agent tender, so I find him in about the same position he was before the new league year started: as a core special-teamer and primary backup.
Has much really changed for Robert Spillane since August? By then, Vince Williams retired, but then Schobert was acquired. Now Schobert is gone and in steps Myles Jack. And so he’ll still be behind two starters, the other being Devin Bush, only the cast has changed slightly.
There was a period of time a year ago at which point it seemed as though Spillane may enter a full-time starting role. He had been a spot starter the year before after Bush was injured and lost for the season, but clearly the team was not convinced in him in that role when they pulled the trigger on the Schobert trade.
Still, they did give him a sub-package role, installing him as the dime linebacker, which never really made a whole lot of sense. I don’t see Jack coming off the field in third downs in order for Spillane to play this year, however—and neither would Bush if he actually looks anything like the Bush of his first two seasons.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t still offer value, which is why the Steelers did place a restricted tender on him worth over $2 million. Presumably, he will be the top reserve at inside linebacker, though perhaps second-year Buddy Johnson could make a push this summer.
More securely, he will continue to function as one of the team’s core special teams players, where he played 244 snaps in 14 games last year. He did miss three games due to a knee injury.