3 free agent options who could replace Robert Spillane for Steelers in 2021

K.J. Wright #50 of the Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
K.J. Wright #50 of the Seattle Seahawks. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Seattle Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright (50) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Robert Spillane has been unspectacular during this summer. Here are three inside linebacker options that would be better for the Steelers in 2021. 

The Steelers suffered some pretty big losses on defense this year, but with some players really stepping up their game during training camp this year, perhaps the departure of a few defensive starters won’t be as significant as it appears on paper.

Pittsburgh’s defensive backs have been impressive in the early going as James Pierre and Antoine Brooks are looking to make an impact this year. Meanwhile, edge defender is arguably even stronger as Alex Highsmith has been the star of training camp this year and Melvin Ingram can be excellent when healthy.

However, one position that remains a big concern on defense is ‘Buck’ linebacker. Vince Williams and Avery Williamson are no longer with the team, while Robert Spillane – the projected starter – has been rather unspectacular. Here are three better options for the Steelers in 2021:

K.J. Wright

K.J. Wright has always flown a bit under the radar as he was often overshadowed by All-Pro-level players on Seattle’s defense (including fellow linebacker Bobby Wagner), however, he would be an excellent fit as the ‘Buck’ linebacker for the Steelers.

At 32, Wright isn’t exactly a spring chicken, but he still played at a high level in 2020 – earning a top-10 overall grade among off-ball linebackers, according to Pro Football Focus. At 6’3” and 246 pounds, Wright has a perfect profile and skillset to take on Vince Williams’ old role as the linebacker who plays close to the line of scrimmage and sifts through traffic in the middle.

While not a tremendous athlete by any means, Wright makes up for his lack of speed with terrific instincts and the ability to stack and shed blocks. He would be an ideal fit next to Devin Bush in Pittsburgh’s base 3-4 defense and an instant upgrade over Robert Spillane. Wright has been sitting in free agency for a long time now, and the Steelers could likely lock him up on a cheap one-year deal.