Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was a guest Friday on NFL Total Access and was asked who he thinks are the best cornerbacks in the league besides himself. His answer included a somewhat surprising name from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Well if Darrelle Revis is playing then I would say it\’s him, but this year he didn\’t get a chance to play,” started Sherman. “So there were some pretty good performances. Tim Jennings had a great year, but I think it would be out of, surprisingly, Antonio Cromartie, and Keenan Lewis from Pittsburgh doesn\’t get a lot of respect because he doesn\’t get a lot of picks, but he\’s a heck of a corner. So I think it\’s a close discussion between those guys and Charles Tillman. That\’s the discussion.”
Sherman is definitely one of the top young cornerbacks in the league right now. He finished tied for second last year in interceptions with 8 and led the league in passes defensed with 25 of them. Lewis finished second behind Sherman in passes defensed with 24, but of course failed to record an interception.
This will be an interesting offseason for Lewis, who is all set to start off the new league year as an unrestricted free agent. The Steelers seem set to allow him test the market to see what is out there before making an attempt to re-sign him.
I broke down back in December what the possible market value for Lewis could be based on his free agency competition, and what happened last year with the free agent cornerbacks, and came up with an average year value between $7-8 million. The lack of interceptions by Lewis, however, combined with the fact that several teams might consider him a system cornerback, could of course severely drop his market value by a couple of million a year.
Keep in mind that several more teams will be switching to a 3-4 defense in 2013, and that includes the Cleveland Browns, who now have Ray Horton as their defensive coordinator, and a lot of cap space of which to work with. Horton was of course the Steelers defensive backs coach when Lewis was drafted back in 2009. While Horton worked with Lewis his first two years in the league, it wasn\’t until Carnell Lake replaced him when Lewis started to turn the proverbial corner.
Lewis has credited Lake in the past with his turnaround and he said on Twitter after the season ended that he was not money greedy and that his exit meeting with the Steelers went great. He also added at that time that he believed he would be with the Steelers in 2013 and that the two sides were moving in the right direction as far as early contract talks had gone.
Free agency starts on March 12 so in four weeks we should have a pretty good idea if Lewis will remain in Pittsburgh or not. I, for one, hope he does.