Coming off of a career year in which he recorded 79 tackles, four tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks while playing 59% of the defensive snaps, veteran inside linebacker Robert Spillane is set to hit free agency this offseason, setting up a potential departure from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
If Spillane has his way though, he’ll remain in the black and gold, a place he calls “a blessing” to be part of, while also hoping to maintain a true, three-down linebacker role that he had for much of the 2022 season, including over the final month or so of the year, emerging ahead of Myles Jack and Devin Bush.
Speaking with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski, Spillane spoke highly of his time in the Steel City and stated that he’d love to have the opportunity to come back and be a part of something special for the organization.
“I love this organization. I’ve loved being here from the second I got here,” Spillane told Adamski for the Tribune-Review. “I’ve poured my heart into everything that I do here. I love the teammates. I love the coaches. It’s been a blessing. I’ve never taken it for granted, and if I’m given the opportunity to come back, that’d be something that’s special.
“Pittsburgh is something that will always be special to me regardless.”
Pittsburgh should be a special place for Spillane, considering it was the spot where he got his true big break in the NFL.
Released by the Tennessee Titans in late October of the 2018 season, Spillane found himself a street free agent until signing with the Steelers on February 8, 2019. From there, Spillane stuck around, bouncing from the practice squad in 2019 to the active roster from the 2020 season on, eventually working his way into a pivotal role this season.
Spillane has been routinely praised by the coaching staff in recent seasons for his work and preparation, including head coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Those two seem to be higher on him than many within the franchise, the fan base, the media, and around the league overall, which led to Spillane’s promotion late in the 2022 season.
To his credit, he produced when given the opportunity, though he still has his fair share of issues at the position in the role the Steelers envision for him.
Based on the way Spillane closed the season, it’s hard to envision the Steelers letting him hit the open market. It’s not as if Spillane is going to break the bank. He deserves a raise, that much is certain. But he’s not going to be all that expensive, especially after having made $2.433 million last season on a one-year deal.
With guys like Devin Bush and Marcus Allen set to hit free agency at the same time as Spillane from the same position group, Pittsburgh can’t afford to let all three walk, leaving just Jack, Mark Robinson and Chappelle Russell on the roster currently. Chances are, Spillane is re-signed rather quickly this offseason, ensuring he remains in a place he considers special while continuing to get more and more opportunities for the black and gold.