The Pittsburgh Steelers will most certainly look to try and sign unrestricted free agent cornerback Keenan Lewis to a long term deal prior to the start of free agency, but the Oregon State product would be best served to at least check out the market with the Steelers best offer in hand.
Below are what I believe to be the biggest named unrestricted free agent cornerbacks hitting the market this upcoming offseason along with their 2012 stats and Lewis is most certainly included in that bunch. His 69 total tackles and 23 passes defensed will most certainly raise some eyebrows with teams as will his ability to play though injuries.
So how much will Lewis stand to get as a top notch free agent cornerback? Below are the contracts of the top free agents from last offseason with the top three earners getting an average year value of around $8-10 million.
2012 Free Agency Top Cornerback Signings
Lardarius Webb (RFA) - Signed with Ravens - Signed a six-year, $52.742 million contract that included a $10 million signing bonus.
Cortland Finnegan - Signed with Rams - Signed a five-year, $50 million contract that contained $27 million guaranteed, including a $5 million signing bonus.
Brandon Carr - Signed with Cowboys - Signed a five-year, $50.1 million contract that contained $25.5 million guaranteed, including a $10 million signing bonus.
Carlos Rogers - Signed with 49ers - Signed a four-year, $29.3 million contract that included a $5 million signing bonus.
Terrell Thomas - Signed with Giants - Signed a four-year, $17.4 million contract that contained $11 million guaranteed, including a $1 million signing bonus.
Aaron Ross - Signed with Jaguars - Signed a three-year, $9.75 million contract that included a $1 million signing bonus.
Keep in mind that the guaranteed money is always the biggest factor here, as is the structure. Also keep in mind that the franchise tag for the cornerback position is scheduled to be $10.668 million.
The Steelers will most likely try to keep Lewis with an average value of around $7-8 million on a four or five year deal with a signing bonus of anywhere between $8-10 million. Will that be enough to keep him in Pittsburgh? It is hard to say, but Lewis most certainly would like to stay with defensive backs coach Carnell Lake, who is responsible for his fantastic development. Money of course talks the loudest so it will be interesting to see if Lewis will be willing to give a hometown discount to remain with the Steelers.