Keenan Lewis & Cortez Allen Now Likely To Battle For Open Left Cornerback Spot

It is now being confirmed that Pittsburgh Steelers unrestricted free agent cornerback William Gay has indeed signed with the Arizona Cardinals and will not be returning to the Steelers in 2012. Gay started at the left outside cornerback spot for the Steelers in 2012 from week 2 on after Bryant McFadden lost the spot following the week 1 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. When the Steelers would go to their nickel sub-package last year, Gay shifted inside to the nickel corner spot and Keenan Lewis came in as the left corner.

Lewis appears to be the odds on favorite now to replace Gay initially, but second year cornerback Cortez Allen will likely be given every opportunity to win the job. Lewis has more defensive snap experience on his side after seeing the field for just over 400 snaps last season. Allen only saw 60 snaps in total during his rookie year and most of those were in dime or big nickel packages.

Allen very well could be used in a nickel role this year as fellow second year corner Curtis Brown did not see the field on defense in his rookie year. Allen showed promise lining up inside on slot receivers and tight ends, so that would be the likeliest scenario at this point. Should Allen beat out Lewis for the starting left corner spot to start the season, he would still likely kick inside when the Steelers go to their sub-packages.

With Gay officially moving on the Steelers are officially left with 4 corners returning from last year and they very well could draft another one at some point in the draft now and it most likely would happen after the 3rd round. The Steelers could also bring back McFadden on a one-year veteran minimum contract that might be eligible for a qualifying contract that comes with a reduced cap hit. He would provide some experienced depth to the unit and could also contribute on special teams. McFadden was released in the early part of February and has received no attention since being let go.

Also on the offseason roster are Walter McFadden and Antonio Smith, but both appear to be long-shots to make the 53 man roster at this point. The Steelers most certainly will sign a few undrafted coernerbacks for training camp as well. Defensive backs coach Carnell Lake did a great job in his first season last year and the play of Gay, Lewis and Allen is proof of that. Lewis has turned the proverbial corner it seems after appearing to be an underachiever after his first two seasons in Pittsburgh. Allen came to the Steelers very raw out of the Citadel, but his ability to see the field during his rookie season speaks volumes.

  • Eric87

    McFadden has kind of sucked lately, i believe the roster spot would be better off for someone else.

  • K2theizzo

    Why Allen over Brown?

  • mghjr88

    The coaches put Allen on the field for defensive snaps last season whereas Brown only contributed on special teams. That should be a pretty good indication of where they are at this point. I don’t think that is a knock on Brown by any means, Allen is probably just a little bit ahead of him in terms of development.

  • Intropy

    Because he actually played some defense last year. But still, Brown has every opportunity to show up in camp and compete.

    I recently read (I wish I could remember where) an analysis of success vs. draft position. Higher selections did better as expected, but it was not uniform across positions. CB in particular saw a smaller decrease with later selections than other positions did. Knowing that made me rethink the my past thoughts of needing a high CB pick. It seems picking lots of later elections is more optimal. WIth that in mind I wouldn’t mind seeing a CB or two selected in the later rounds (BPA allowing, of course).

  • mghjr88

    Perhaps a younger player, but McFadden certainly could contribute on special teams and simply provide depth and experience.

  • Bleebo77

    I would now expect the Steelers to be more open to CB in the draft in general, but it’s not a deep draft at CB, so now I wonder if the Steelers would be open to a CB in the first 3 rounds if the BPA on their board is a corner when their # is called.

  • Eric87

    I dont know if Myron Rolle is listed at safety or corner, but I am interested in seeing him. His intelligence has to be an upside when learning LeBeau’s defense.



  • Finnegans Wake

    I wouldn’t sell Brown short. Allen obviously has the smarts to pick up the D, but I like Brown’s athleticism and think he will come on this year. Could be a 180 from a dearth to a plethora; Lewis showed improvement last year, Allen was a nice surprise, and still think Brown has some nice measurables.

  • mghjr88

    He is a safety as far as I know

  • mghjr88

    I remember reading a local article about Allen and Brown during the season and I believe part of the reasoning behind Allen’s playing time was due to his pure ability to “turn and run” or something along those lines

  • TsarPepe

    If I were the Steelers, I will now hope for Kirkpatrick to drop within range for the taking. He is a solution for a long-standing drama at CB, but he is also an insurance policy at safety., where both Clark and Polamalu are approaching their twilight Two birds with one stone.

  • Smittyflash

    Gay had a respectful season but it’s time to upgrade and move on,we are one season late in makin all these decisions on cutting players and allowing players to go else where…..give Brown,Allen etc…. a true shot at the position! no need to add a draft pick here unless it’s 5,6,7 rd….more worried about cap money than avg players staying…..sign Mike Wallace or lets move on….concern about R.Mendenhall as well?????? Steelers do what we do,for the team long term….don’t over spend!

  • fire arians

    that would be nice, but there’s no way kirkpatrick is going to drop to 24, no way in hell

  • SteelerChick

    Did Keenan Lewis sign his offer?

  • SteelersDepot

    Not yet, but that is not unusual as there really is no benefit for him to do so yet. I have 99.999999% confidence he will though.