Buy Or Sell: Robert Spillane Will Earn More Than Devin Bush In Free Agency

With the Steelers’ 2022 season unfortunately now in the rearview mirror, a 9-8 campaign that came up short too late in spite of a strong second half, we now turn our attention to the offseason, and the many decisions that will have to be made over the course of the next several months.

This is now a young team on the offensive side of the ball, though one getting older on defense, and both sides could stand to be supplemented robustly, including in the trenches—either one. Decisions about the coaching staff must also be made, as well as who to prioritize in free agency, and what to look for from the outside, before getting to the draft.

These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).

Topic Statement: Robert Spillane will earn more this offseason than Devin Bush.

Explanation: With both inside linebackers hitting unrestricted free agency this offseason, it will be telling how the league perceives each player. Bush is the physically gifted, pedigreed, athletic underperformer. Spillane is the workaholic overachiever who gets the most out of his abilities. Neither is ideal. Both can play. But who is more valuable?


Production is what matters at the end of the day, and Spillane produced more than Bush. They had virtually the same number of tackles (Bush with the snap advantage), but Spillane had the larger impact. More tackles for loss. More sacks. More solo tackles, more passes defensed.

Who wants to pay more for the guy who was benched than for the guy who played over the guy who was benched? Yes, one might be more physically gifted than the other, but at this point in their respective careers, there’s only so much you do to convince an owner that a player has more untapped potential than we’ve seen.


There’s something to be said for pedigree in terms of estimating second-contract value. And not without good reason. There is no shortage of examples of players in poor scheme fits. Players with first-round talent often find suitors who believe they can get more out of them than their original team.

And Devin Bush is a guy who has seemed to be in need of a change of scenery for a couple of years already. The general feeling is that if he can turn his career around, it has to happen somewhere other than Pittsburgh. He still has talent. Somebody out there will think he can coach him up.

Spillane, meanwhile, is plain and simply a JAG. Every team has guys like him. And because they already have their guys, they’re not going to spend a lot of money on other guys’ guys. Neither will be gifted starting roles. In that position, you pay more for upside.

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