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.