PITTSBURGH -- What came as maybe the (second) biggest shock of the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason, Vince Williams' release ended an eight-year run at inside linebacker.
Williams' release saved the team $4 million in much-needed salary cap space but put a lot of faith in four-year veteran Robert Spillane.
Spillane started seven games in 2020 in place of an injured Devin Bush. He finished the season with 45 tackles, two sacks, a fumble recovery, interception and touchdown.
During his first conference call since signing his exclusive rights tender, Spillane praised his former teammate, saying he has spoken to Williams since the release.
"Vince is one of the people that I've very strongly looked up to since day one in Pittsburgh," Spillane said. "He's a guy that goes about his business the right way. He plays football the right way. The energy that he brings to a defense is infections, and his ability to really rally guys together, get guys going on the same page is a high-end trait of his.
"We're going to miss Vince, and all that means is it's time for myself and Devin to step up and be leaders of the position group."
Spillane and Bush are expected to be the starting inside linebackers in 2021. The undrafted veteran is excited to begin working alongside the first-round pick.
"I think we're both looking at it as a challenge but also an opportunity," Spillane said. "We'll be ready when OTAs start, to get our guys going."