RFA Linebacker ‘Plans to Sign’ With Steelers: Report

Robert Spillane

Patrick Smith/Getty Images Robert Spillane of the Pittsburgh Steelers returns an interception for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens on November 01, 2020.

Earlier this week the Pittsburgh Steelers signed two of their three exclusive rights free agents: safety-turned-linebacker Marcus Allen and center J.C. Hassenauer. Now it appears they are on the cusp of signing their third ERFA, that being inside linebacker Robert Spillane.

According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, “The Steelers have tendered [ERFA] Robert Spillane and he plans to sign.”

‘Front of the Plane’ Spillane

Bringing Spillane back on a one-year deal is a no-brainer, as Spillane was responsible for a number of attention-grabbing plays last season, including a pick-six interception against the Baltimore Ravens and a one-on-one goal-line stop of first-team All-Pro running back Derrick Henry, one that earned Spillane a seat in the front of the plane on the way back from Nashville.

The Western Michigan product was thrust into the starting lineup after fellow inside linebacker Devin Bush suffered a torn ACL and he appeared in a total of 12 games (seven starts), contributing 45 tackles, four passes defensed, four tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, two sacks and one recovered fumble, in addition to the aforementioned interception.

No doubt he would have been even more productive had he not suffered a knee injury of his own against Washington, which landed him on injured reserve for the last four games of the season. He returned for the playoff game against Cleveland and contributed six tackles (three solo) while playing 88% of the defensive snaps and 34% of the special teams snaps.

OLB Ola Adeniyi Not Tendered

In other news from Saturday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com/NFL Network has indicated that the Steelers have decided not to offer a tender to backup outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi, which will make him an unrestricted free agent.

Adeniyi is just one of just two Steelers who are/were restricted free agents, the other being wide receiver/kick returner Ray-Ray McCloud.

McCloud was not tendered either, but earlier this week the Steelers signed him to a one-year contract, one that will pay him less than the lowest value tender.

According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Media, the restricted free agent tender amounts for 2021 are as follows:

First round: $4.766 million
Second round: $3.384 million
Original round [drafted]: $2.183 million
Right of first refusal only: $2.133 million

Those numbers are too rich for Adeniyi’s level of contribution, and if the Steelers are content to let him become a free agent (as Rapoport indicates) it may be that they don’t want him back at any price.

Adeniyi entered the NFL with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo in 2018. During his time in Pittsburgh he played a total of 215 snaps on defense and 508 snaps on special teams. In the past two years he appeared in 31 games (one start) and contributed 24 tackles (16 solo) on defense, along with three forced fumbles.

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