Patience could pay off for Steelers in cornerback search

I’m trying to get on board with this free-agent cornerback thing. I really am. But Patrick Robinson and Sterling Moore just don’t move the needle for me.

Don’t get me wrong, the stakes of my black-and-gold tent are firmly planted in the dirt at Shutdown Corner Campground, but there was no way the likes of Darrelle Revis or Brandon Browner were going to be in play for the fiscally responsible Steelers.

While the signing of running back DeAngelo Williams could end up being the steal of a relatively sedate free-agent period, the financial splash play for the Steelers front office in the first quarter of 2015 was obviously Ben Roethlisberger’s shiny, new five-year deal. But no matter how many truckloads of cash the Rooney’s drop off at Big Ben’s doorstep in the next handful of years, the uncertainty on the other side of the ball – particularly in the defensive backfield – continues to linger in the hearts and minds of the fan base.

Brice McCain took his talents to South Beach. Ike Taylor and those cinder blocks he calls hands won’t be back. That leaves the enigmatic Cortez Allen, the diminutive Antwon Blake and the venerable William Gay as the only experienced corners on the roster. Providing Allen remembers how to play cornerback sometime in the next six months, I don’t see guys like Robinson or Moore making enough of an impression to supplant Gay or Blake for the starting spot on the other side of the field.

Robinson’s best season with the Saints came in 2012 when he racked up 53 tackles, three interceptions a forced fumble and a sack while starting all 16 games. Aside from 2012, Robinson has never started more than seven games in a season during his five-year career. Moore has started just 10 of 40 games in four seasons with New England and Dallas. Neither jumps out as must-sign options, which is why Kevin Colbert didn’t hand either one of them a contract offer or a pen during their respective visits this week.

From a fan’s perspective, it can be simultaneously fun and frustrating to evaluate their favorite team’s options at a particular position. The reality of this particular situation is that there’s still much to be decided in terms of the Steelers finding adequate cornerback help. Beyond the big names that have already landed elsewhere or re-signed with their teams, the free-agent cornerback market is underwhelming at best. I’d be fine with the Steeler choosing to forego a free-agent corner and target a difference-making cover guy in the draft later this spring.

There are a handful of college cornerbacks with first-round draft grades that could help the Steelers solidify the back end of the defense. Personally, I’m going to spend the next few weeks hoping that Michigan State’s Trae Waynes falls to the Steelers at pick No. 22. Conventional wisdom has Waynes off the board by the time the Steelers are on the clock, but hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

When it comes down to it, the story of the 2015 Steelers defense has not yet been written. Perhaps the most telling illustration of this can be found on the Steelers official website, where the depth chart has been wiped out completely. What’s listed instead is a column of position abbreviations and rows upon rows of blank spaces. The message at the top of the page reads “The first official 2015 Steelers depth chart will be released during training camp.”

Until then, all we can do is wait.

About the Author

Kevin Ritchart

Kevin Ritchart joined the Steelers Gab writing staff in January 2015. He is a veteran writer and editor who has a passion for all things black and gold. In addition covering local high school and college sports for the Trib Total Media family of newspapers for more than a decade, Kevin also possesses a wealth of professional experience in the fields of marketing and advertising. Kevin earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky in 1998 and completed work on his MBA in marketing at Argosy University in 2013. He’s enjoying his current role of freelance writer and stay-at-home dad.

You can follow Kevin on Facebook, Twitter @KevinRitchart and Google Plus. To see Kevin’s full bio please go to our Meet Our Staff page.

4 Comments on "Patience could pay off for Steelers in cornerback search"

  1. As a long time Steeler fan going back to the late seventies Im very familiar with how they operate as far as building their team . With that being said , their lack of involvement in free agency is mind boggling . The Deangelo Williams signing was a decent insurance signing that will lessen the blow of not having LeVeon Bell for two games . However , their lack of participation in finding a cornerback is in a word LUDICROUS . You have a hole in your secondary big enough to drive a truck through and you dont lift a finger to sign the last two veteran corners left on the market . Patrick Robinson signed with the Chargers and Sterling Moore signed with the Buccaneers . The Steelers desperately needed to sign one of these guys and let both walk right out the door . It makes no sense . To think that youre going to find a corner in the draft who is capable of coming in and starting from day one is expecting way to much . They have no idea what Troy Polamalu is going to do , nor do they have any idea what Cortez Allen is going to do after being benched midway through the season last year . Bottom line , they’re are far more questions than answers . I dont want to hear about cap space . The Steelers had slightly over six million in cap space and didnt lift a finger to fix what is their biggest problem . The question all Steeler fans should be asking is , why ?

  2. Good question, DaveB. A rookie CB, even a top draft pick, isn’t going to be effective for a year, and at #22, Colbert isn’t going to get a top CB. I figured they would sign either Moore or Robinson, for insurance if nothing else, or trade the 1st round pick for a quality CB and a 2nd round pick. Gay and Blake are backups at best; Cortez Allen has yet to prove his worth; and the free agent talent is thin. We’re in a real bind. And if the team decides to stand pat with the CBs we have now, it’s going to be a long year. Not a pretty picture, sports fans.

  3. Blkandgold4Life | March 20, 2015 at 12:24 am | Reply

    Steelers need to realize this is not the 70s and sometime you’re goin to have to actuall Spend $ on key pieces that you need..those Bull Cowher teams had multiple free agents that playd a huge roll when Donahoe was there. Not saying break the bank.. But one or 2 PROVEN vets a year wouldn’t hurt.. Take a page from the Patroits.. They draft for DEPTH.. And use free agency to aquire key players in key positions “financially responsible” lol that’s a good one. Just call it like it is “Cheap” and Below budget

  4. guys, the rooneys hide their cheapness behind the mask of “it’s the steeler way”

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