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Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Exit Interviews: Robert Spillane and Buddy Johnson

The Steelers need to upgrade their output from the inside linebacker position in 2022.

Seattle Seahawks v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 NFL season has come to a close. Because the Steelers are among the 31 teams who did not finish fulfilling their ultimate goal, they are in the process of wrapping up their season and moving forward into 2022.

Since the Steelers conduct exit interviews with all their players, we here at BTSC thought we would do the same. By outlining two players each day, we will be able to look at their season in retrospect as well as looking toward the future. Since Coach Tomlin stated he starts his interviews with rookies, first year players, and those heading into free agency, we will do the same. To start, we will pair a potential free agent with a first-year player as we work through this process to eventually cover the entire Steelers roster.

Next up is linebackers Robert Spillane and Buddy Johnson.


Robert Spillane

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Position: Linebacker
Years with the Steelers: 3
Years in the NFL: 4
Contract Status: Restricted free agent
Contract Details: Expiring exclusive rights contract from 2021.
Games played in 2021: 14 regular season, 1 postseason
Games started in 2021: 4 regular season, 1 postseason
Snaps (regular season): 346 (defense), 244 (special teams)
PFF score: 46.3 (63rd of 89)
Notable stats (regular season): Spillane had 56 tackles, two of which were for loss.

Notes: By the end of the season, Robert Spillane was finding himself in the mix much more with the Steelers defense, so much so he basically split snaps in the Steelers playoff game with Devin Bush and Joe Schobert. Known more for his ability to stop the run, Spillane was often a liability in coverage and teams would intentionally attempt to scheme to get him matched up against a certain receiver. Being a restricted free agent, it would be quite an investment for the Steelers to offer a tender, as it would cost them an estimated $2.4 million in salary even just to have the right of first refusal. For this reason, Spillane will likely become an unrestricted free agent if he does not sign with the Steelers early in the process.


Buddy Johnson

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Position: Linebacker
Years with the Steelers: 1
Years in the NFL: 1
Contract Status: Signed through 2024
Contract Details: $949,836 salary cap hit for 2022. Would cost the Steelers $374,508 in dead money if released.
Games played in 2021: 4 regular season
Games started in 2021: 4 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 6 (defense), 59 (special teams)
PFF score: 38.6 (DNQ for ranking)
Notable stats (regular season): Johnson had to tackles on the season.

Notes: Johnson had basically a red shirt season as he was only active on game day if there was an injury at the linebacker position. Ultimately dealing with injury himself, Johnson went on IR a day before the Steelers final regular season game due to a foot injury. As with most rookies, this offseason will be key in Johnson’s development to get into the mix at the linebacker position for the Steelers and not just regarded as a special teams player.


So what do you think? How would you conduct Spillane’s and Johnson’s exit interview? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Make sure you check back each day for another set of exit interviews. If you have missed any of the previous articles, they are listed here:

Ben Roethlisberger & Najee Harris
Eric Ebron & Pat Freiermuth
Trai Turner & Kendrick Green
Chuks Okorafor & Dan Moore Jr.