Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis is one player that I couldn\'t have been more wrong about this season. Lewis proclaimed back in May that this would be a big year for him and right now his prediction is looking spot on with 5 games remaining in the regular season.
Heading into Week 13 Lewis has recorded 53 total tackles and is tied for the league lead in passes defended with 18. He has allowed just under a 54% completion ratio on passes thrown his direction in addition. Will he make the Pro Bowl like he also predicted back in May? Not having any interceptions to his credit won\'t help his cause, but he could get to Hawaii as an alternate, or if another player backs out due to injury. This of course assumes the Steelers aren\'t playing in the Super Bowl.
Lewis was a restricted free agent this past offseason and tendered at his original round level of $1.26 million. At the conclusion of this season he will be an unrestricted free agent so the Steelers either have to extended him prior to the end of the season, which is unlikely to happen, or choose to franchise him after the season, which is also unlikely to happen.
The 2013 franchise tag for a cornerback is projected to be over $10 million. Sure they could tag him with hopes of working out a long-term deal, but with the other salary cap maneuvering that needs to go on just to get under the cap, and no guarantees a long term-deal can be worked out, it is looking more and more likely that the Steelers won\'t use the franchise tag at all on either Lewis or his childhood friend, wide receiver Mike Wallace.
The Steelers will not break the bank to retain Lewis, just like they weren\'t going to break it for Wallace, so unless he really wants to stay in Pittsburgh and continue to play for his position coach Carnell Lake, the man that surely can be credited with turning the the former third-round pick from a bust into a very reliable zone cornerback, he will more than likely test the free agent market and get paid. The Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, and the Kansas City Chiefs are three teams that come to mind that might have interest in Lewis should he hit the market.
Have you seen the list of cornerbacks that are scheduled to be unrestricted this season? There is
Darrelle Revis and then everybody else. (EDIT Note: 2013 for Revis: I read the Revis contract wrong, so really the pool is even thinner) Needless to say that Lewis picked a great season to turn the proverbial corner.
There is of course still a lot of football left to be played this year and several things can happen over the course of the offseason, but we very well could be counting down the games that Lewis will play in a Steelers uniform.