Looking At The Decision To Move On From Curtis Brown

While I wasn’t necessarily expecting to see the name Curtis Brown on a list of termination transactions made by the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday, it can hardly come as a surprise, and it is a possibility that I have covered earlier this offseason.

The former 2011 third-round draft pick was never able to show to his coaches that he could be trusted on defense. And when he actually played on defense in 2012, he was yanked in favor of a 5’10” former undrafted free agent due to his performance.

As much of a disappointment as he was on defense, his special teams play was above the line for his first two seasons, accounting for the majority of the Steelers’ special teams tackles during those years.

Brown was the gunner on punting units that opposing teams often tried to wedge with two jammers because he would be the first man down the field. His ability as a jammer, however, never matched his ability to attack the returner.

Every offseason seemed to be filled with optimism for Brown’s potential to finally break out and contribute on defense, even inherit a starting spot as Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen had now done ahead of him.

When he got on the field, however, it was always more of the same, as when he gave up multiple touchdowns to a then-rookie Nick Foles in a 2012 preseason game. He then allowed three of four passes in his coverage to be caught for 60 yards, including a touchdown, in the 2013 preseason finale in his only significant playing time.

That meant another season relegated to special teams duty, as rookie safety Shamarko Thomas leapfrogged him on the cornerback depth chart to start the season. For the very few snaps that the Steelers required another cornerback, Antwon Blake, a second-year player who hadn’t been on the team until after final roster cuts, came in.

And Blake has a lot to do with why Brown is no longer on the team. He along with Robert Golden, Thomas, and Markus Wheaton, the Steelers have found their new nucleus on special teams, mostly at the gunner position.

Head coach Mike Tomlin even benched Brown for a stretch of games due to his underperformance on special teams during the season. In his first game back, he was in on three tackles and played quite well, but he didn’t keep it up, and he ultimately tore up his knee, ending his season.

Brown did not have his knee repaired until after the season in January, which put in serious jeopardy his ability to be prepared for this upcoming season anyway. That made it far less surprising that the team parted ways with him, despite the quite meager blip on the cap meter the termination produces.

That pretty much says all that you need to know about the decision behind Brown’s release. The Steelers are ready to move on from their disappointing third-round draft pick. A reunion at this point is highly unlikely, and with that knee, he may not even be in the league with anybody this season.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • steeltown

    Agreed… with Thomas, Blake, Golden and Wheaton on roster his stock fell drastically

  • srdan

    It hurts to have a 3rd CB not on the roster. We really could have used a boost in talent at the positoin. Hopefully lake and tomlin get it right this year. At least two picks have to be spent in the secondary….again.

  • James Kling


  • dgh57

    When a player is cut from a already thin position tells it all to me as to how they felt about his abilities and where they’re going in FA and/or the draft!

  • Chad H

    Athletic ability doesn’t mean anything if you can’t see the game. Now I’m hoping we will see Carter’s name on the chopping block. Got to shed players from the 53 man roster that can’t play.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I was confused last year with Blake being brought in because to me Blake and Brown were the same guy but today i am glad we had a choice in which guy to keep although Blake hasnt earned anything yet this year.

  • Menace_501

    I wonder what the percentage of Texas products to being successful in the NFL is. I know the Steelers are not doing well. Hampton only success story I can think of at the moment.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    He’s talking about special teams play in Wheaton’s case, not CB duties.

  • NW86

    Talk about a thin position – I agree, it’s entirely possible that Carter won’t be on the 53 man in September, but they can’t even consider cutting him until the Worilds/Woodley situation is fully settled and they have drafted an OLB in May.

  • SumnerYoung

    Earl Thomas is an elite level safety for the Seahawks. He’s a Texas Longhorn product, but he’s the only guy that comes immediately to my mind.

  • James Kling


  • cp72

    Jamal Charles might turn out to be decent.

  • CW

    So it’s like one success out of the Longhorns every few years.

  • shawn

    i say they will make 3 DB picks and add another UDFA … they need to throw everything AND the kitchen sink at this position and see what sticks

  • srdan

    I would be ecstatic if that happened.

    As long as they don’t forget about OLB.

    If you think about it, there isn’t another unit on the team other than the secondary that is old anymore. With your plan above we could get young in a hurry…hopefully young and talented.

    Don’t tell the rest of the league, but the oldest defense in teh league is getting younger.

  • shawn

    Oh yes WE are …

  • srdan

    Limas Sweed? lol

  • Douglas Andrews

    He seemed like he just couldn’t put it together on the field. Those long TD’s were just flat out awful CB play. Wish we could have gotten something more out of a 3rd rounder but in the end it was time to move on.

  • Chad H

    Yes it is thin no argument there but Carter is just a body on the field. He brings nothing. Garvin who can play inside or outside would fill in better. I really wish we never cut Baxter just to see what he could do in year 2. Baxter I had clearly beating out Carter for a roster spot last year.

  • Alan Felicia

    Lake and Tomlin? Blame Colbert and his scouting team as well! They need to find new, talented, and, perhaps, playmakers in the secondary. I’m a big fan of Ike, but, can they please find and draft Corners who can record more than 2 INTs. Jeez, when was the last time Pittsburgh had a Corner with more than 4 INTs? Chad Scott in 2001?

  • srdan

    I agree there is more blame. But Tomlin is a secondary guy as well as lake. That is why I said that.

  • Alan Felicia

    Or at least a playmaker at Corner! Someone who can actually force Turnovers!

  • cencalsteeler

    Unfortunate, but not surprising. Brown was rumored (and I stress rumored) as possibly having some psychological issues and we all know he was in Tomlins doghouse.

  • Alan Felicia

    I blame Colbert more since he’s been a scout for over 25 years and his main objective is building the team. Tomlin, LeBeau, and Lake are all secondary guys, obviously, missing on talent lately. At this point, Corners should be a priority in the 1st and 3rd round!

  • srdan

    Forgot about Lebeau…heck, its been 40 years haha

  • Alan Felicia

    Don’t forget Priest Holmes (RB), Jermichael Finley (TE), Ricky Williams (RB), Derrick Johnson (MLB, 3x Pro Bowl, KC), Brian Orakpo (OLB, Washington), Shaun Rogers (DT, 3x Pro Bowl, NYG), Quentin Jammer (CB, SD).

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Too bad for him and the team. Even if the Steelers wanted to move away from Ike at this time, it becomes more and more difficult. Draft, FA’s are possibilities, but they hate starting new guys anyway. If Curtis Brown were a serviceable 3rd CB, they would be in a slightly better position. As it stands, lots of work to do at the back end.

    By the way, Polamalu used to spend 30 minutes every day catching balls after practice ONE- handed. Do you think the circus-catch INT’s he has come up with over the course of his career were accidental? He was preparing for the moments he would require that skill in a game. I think the DB’s should all follow his example, lead by Ike. Yes, he has been good in the past but when asked why he has so few INT’s, this is what he said:

    “If I could catch, the Steelers wouldn’t be able to afford me.” Yes, he laughed and yes, it was funny. But that’s not the response I want from Steeler players. I would prefer that he try his damnedest to improve! 10 minutes a day? 30 minutes a day? I don;t give a sh!t. We need to always try to improve, otherwise you’re going backwards.

  • CW

    I said every couple of years they produce someone potentially great. And if you look at the years these Longhorns came into the NFL they are mostly a couple of years apart. FYI I wouldn’t call Finley great, he’s decent most of the time, but not great.

    It’s not that there is zero talent there, it’s that for the largest university in the state of Texas with about 40,000 total students in attendance and one of the most avid high school and college football fan bases in the nation, you’d think that they would produce a whole lot more great names in football for the size of the school. But they produce great talents about like you expect out of a state university half it’s size.

  • Brendon Glad

    It’s odd. I thought Keenan Lewis was horrible after watching his first 2 seasons of (mainly pre-season) action. I thought Curtis Brown was horrible after the same. I’m not trying to protect my dignity by saying that Keenan Lewis improved infinitely past what I thought he was capable of…(we can fairly acknowledge major improvement, right?)…while Brown was more of the same…then the knee. I don’t know how the heck a person is supposed to be able to tell that this will happen. I guess that’s why the personnel people make the big bucks. But in general, I’m still going to trust that Keenan Lewis is the exception. Usually when I’ve seen that many plays by a guy,(over TWO seasons, not just 1) and they still flash almost nothing…they are not going to make it. So my guess is that C. Brown is either done, or destined for innocuousness. But I’m still calling it a “guess”. Lewis proved that.

  • Brendon Glad

    But as to how the Steelers conduct their Rookie draft-board…we have enough evidence to say that if the scouts are assigned by POSITION as opposed to REGION…then the guys who scout LB’S, WR’S, are far ahead of those who scout DB’s and OL. The difference in value/contribution/failed-picks is notable.

  • Brendon Glad

    Agreed…1,000%. Ball skills need to be at a premium, in my opinion, just for a change of pace. It seems like we have over-valued “run-force” over ball-skills in the last 10-15 years…and despite the winning, I think it’s safe to say that finding a “ball-hawk” cb would be worth a try. I’d like to see us draft 2 CB’s…one fairly early and 1 late. Or 2 in middle. The South Carolina CB, Gaines from Rice, and the Duke CB are 3 who should be middle to late. I’d like to see us snag at least 1 of them. Gaines preferred.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Wasn’t Ramon Foster from Texas? Undrafted, but still counts. He was arguably their best lineman last season, particularly in pass protection.

  • Brendon Glad

    Tennessee. But I still think it’s fair to say that UT underperforms in the NFL compared to their NCAAF stature. Don’t have raw numbers to go off of…but it sure FEELS that way…not just with the Steelers.

  • Brendon Glad

    It’s a stretch to say that Finley, Williams, Orakpo, Rogers, and Jammer have “satisfied” or did “satisfy” the teams who drafted them highly. But true, they are notable.

  • GoSteelerz

    I wanted them to get rid of Brown last year and somewhat even the year before. He just never had it to me, like other guys like Cortez Allen that showed determination and improvement, a real will to succeed. Maybe Curtis just isn’t a good fit for us or maybe pro football is just not his thing. Either way it’s about time we move on. We need to draft at least two corners and a safety in this draft. I sure hope we can find some good ones. I actually liked Jordan Dangerfield’s highlights (an undrafted free agent safety we signed a little while ago, who is young, 23, with 1 year in the league as a practice squad guy out of Towson University), who knows maybe he might fit in good for us, we’l see, but we definitely need to get secondary help in this draft!

  • Jazz

    I’ve been saying this for yrs now; the Steelers seem to be behind the curve when it comes to drafting DB’s. When the H#LL will the F/O make some changes in how they evaluate and draft these players? Ridicolous!

  • shawn

    Thats why I’m kind of changing my tune a little with Gilbert … while he won’t be a lock down corner he will get turnovers and be a playmaker as opposed to Dennard which i dont think will be … currently HIGHEST` on Buchannon looks nice … a nice mix of Size/Speed/Hitter/Playmaker … would be awesome in 3rd round or even 2nd !!!

    On another note I think Allen will definitely step it up a notch this season if starts out of the gates clean and injury free …i definitely see him making some plays …

  • shawn

    Spot on … and for the record i think we will target our secondary heavy .. with ball skill DBs as well … check out Buchannon …really starting to like him … Gaines is intriguing for a mid round (4th) guy … and really like Colvin ,Tre Boston and Dawling all as 6th or later rounds … what’s to lose right ?

  • SumnerYoung

    All this makes me wonder about Jackson Jeffcoat. Is he good enough to become an impact player in the NFL? He must be on the Steelers radar as an OLB prospect. He’s getting touted as a 2nd-3rd rounder. Wonder if he’ll last till the 3rd round compensation area?

  • Alan Felicia

    Just an update, Stanley Jean-Baptiste ran 4.48 -40 during today’s pro-day in Nebraska.

  • Brendon Glad

    Yep…the “Steelers formula” for drafting and developing CB’s needs to change in some way. It’s just starting to become fact…instead of coincidence. Especially considering how well they do in other areas. If I were on a Patriots blog I’d say the same thing about the “Patriots formula” for drafting and developing WR’s. There are a lot of “fails” that don’t happen at the same regularity in a lot of the other positions as do Steelers CB/Pats WR. And in my opinion, lack of “ball-hawkishness” is a key reason why the fails are so high. the Steelers would never draft a James Hasty, Asante Samuel, Richard Sherman, Charles Tillman…even though none were drafted above #35. I think that needs to change. (I say this acknowledging I don’t watch much college FB…so PERHAPS the ball-skills come in NFL development…but I’m leaning towards, NO…the “ballhawking ability” probably could have been seen while they were amateurs. That’s my educated guess. (But yes, Troy P.’s hands and ball-skills have drastically improved from his first pro year, while Ike Taylor’s hands and ball-skills have actually declined…while both are said to be off-season workout freaks…so yep, how that happens is beyond me.)