Linebacker Robert Spillane did not wait for an invitation to make an impression in 2020.
In week 6 against the Cleveland Browns, Spillane was inserted for linebacker Devin Bush Jr, who left the game with a torn ACL. Instead of being a mere placeholder, he contributed five tackles, including a highlight-worthy hit on Austin Hooper in the third quarter of their contest. One week later against the Tennessee Titans, he would make arguably the best defensive of the season with a goal line tackle against the most physically imposing running back in the NFL, Derrick Henry.
Just these moments alone, would have merited Spillane a starting spot on any team. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, Spillane became an intricate part of their defensive unit, which was one of the best last season.
With news of Spillane being tendered for the upcoming season, his body of work from last season suggests he is ready for an expanded role on defense. With salary cap issues surrounding the Steelers organization, many have suggested the idea of veteran linebacker Vince Williams becoming a cap casualty, as he currently holds the eighth highest cap hit on the team at $7,031,666.
Even with the return of Bush Jr., the Steelers depth at middle linebacker is seemingly shaky. There is no certainty of them resigning Avery Williamson or Ulysees Gilbert III staying healthy enough to become a productive part of their defensive unit. All these factors only heighten the importance of Spillane's presence this upcoming season.