Going into the 2023 NFL season, it was assumed that the Las Vegas Raiders would need a lot of help at the linebacker position. Denzel Perryman had left the game during the previous offseason, and he was replaced in free agency by veteran Robert Spillane, coming off a strong season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
To be honest, the fan base did not know much about Spillane, but by the end of the 2023 season, he had become a household name in Raider Nation. Spillane had some huge plays for the Silver and Black in 2023, and really became a leader on that side of the ball, outplaying any kind of expectation the fan base had for him.
Apparently, Raiders fans are not the only ones who took notice.
Over at Pro Football Focus, Zoltan Buday laid out the most improved player from each NFL team in 2023, and it was Spillane who came away with the honor.
Raiders LB Robert Spillane named Most Improved Player in 2023
There is no doubt that this was a huge season for Spillane, who proved to be quite the bargain in free agency. He nearly doubled his snap count from the previous season, and thanks to his growth, fellow linebacker Divine Deablo was also able to take a big step forward in his development.
Suddenly, the Raiders had two linebackers they could rely on, and that went a long way in Patrick Graham being able to accomplish some great things on that side of the ball. Spillane will be back in the Silver and Black next season, but now, the expectations are a lot higher for both he, and the rest of the defense.
This is the kind of free agent signing that Tom Telesco must get right during his first offseason as general manager, getting some guys for solid contracts that can really make a difference. Spillane played like a Raider all season long, and it will be fun to see what he can do in Year 2 next season.