The Pittsburgh Steelers went out and signed cornerback Levi Wallace during free agency, and re-signed Ahkello Witherspoon whom they traded for at the beginning of last season. Beyond that the team didn’t address an obvious hole that still remains at the position. They have a lot of ‘guys’, but they just don’t have ‘the guy’.
Cam Sutton who by all rights is the teams #1 cornerback is likely best suited to be a #2. Witherspoon, and Wallace are also best suited to the guy opposite of a true lock down corner. Wallace had that privilege in Buffalo. He played opposite of star Tre’Davious White during most of his time there.
The issue for the Steelers and it has been since Mike Hilton left is that they don’t have a capable coverage corner for the slot. They tried different options last year heading into training camp. But when it was all said and done it ended up being Arthur Maulet’s job. He vastly under performed in comparison to what Hilton was able to do over the years at that position in that Defense.
They already brought in safety Damontae Kazee who expects to see time at the slot corner spot, but he is also one injury away from being one of the starting safeties. Wallace, and Witherspoon are mostly outside corners. Now, Sutton on the other hand played the slot very well when Hilton was injured a few times over the years. He fits the mold with his size of an inside corner. Would they bounce Sutton back inside? There’s been no indication of that yet, but they didn’t do it much last season even with the obvious need to do so.
We reported here last week that the Steelers should re-sign Joe Haden now that he’s still looking for a job, and that his contract demands have probably dwindled by the lack of interest. But another interesting scenario was brought to light late last week.
Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton listed a trade that each team should make before the start of the 2022 season. For the Steelers he believes that they should make a run at New Orleans cornerback Bradley Roby. The Steelers showed interest in Roby back in 2019 when he was a free agent of the Denver Broncos. Roby was reportedly offered a three year contract by the Steelers but instead chose to sign with the Houston Texans.
Steelers get: CB Bradley Roby
Saints get: 2023 sixth-round pick
The Pittsburgh Steelers rarely have a significant amount of cap room to use, but it won’t do them much good at this point in the offseason. There’s a league-wide shortage of potentially available quality veteran cornerbacks, but the Steelers’ current projected starters are the weakest in the NFL.
The New Orleans Saints have a cornerback to spare in Bradley Roby. The 30-year-old veteran was traded to New Orleans last year and re-worked his contract this offseason to stay with the Saints. His cap hit in 2022 is just $1.765 million.
Roby is sticky in man coverage and can play outside or in the slot. Current Steelers cornerbacks Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon are more suited for heavy zone play calls, whereas Roby would give defensive coordinator Teryl Austin more flexibility in case the zone isn’t working. He’d be at least a rotational starter for Pittsburgh compared to fifth or sixth on a loaded Saints depth chart.
The Steelers have been considered more of a zone defense for many years, but when Haden was playing opposite of Steven Nelson, with Hilton in the slot they tried to play a lot of man coverage. And it worked for them. According to Wharton the addition of Roby would give the Steelers some of that flexibility back.
For as cheap as Roby’s contract is the Steelers would be dumb to not make that move if it ever comes to fruition.
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