2017 Offseason Questions: Will Steelers Explore Top Of CB Market After Reported Interest?

The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Will the Steelers seriously explore some of the top options on the free agent cornerback market?

I don’t know about you but I’m not the sort of person who spends a great deal of time watching NFL Network. Most of it is not aimed to tell you anything new, and the analysis of many of the former players that they employ leaves much to be desired.

I did happen to have it on in the background for a brief period of time yesterday, however, and caught a report by Aditi Kinkhabwala, who spends a good deal of time embedded in the Steelers’ camp. I understand that opinions on her may have soured lately in light of her inaccurately saying that Antonio Brown was ‘pouting’ during a touchdown in the playoffs, but be that as it may, I think she does a good job.

She reported yesterday that the Steelers were working on completing a long-term contract with Le’Veon Bell, who was given the franchise tag. In addition to that, she said during her report—though seemingly not elsewhere—that she was told from within the organization that they are looking to be players in the free agency market.

I am working from memory here, but from recollection, she cited the fact that the team only ran a couple of dozens snaps in man coverage with a single-high safety and how that related to their talent available at the position as one of the reasons that they are looking to bring in a higher-end player.

She also said that she was not given names, but believed that players such as Dre Kirkpatrick and Stephon Gilmore could potentially be targets for them as in fitting the mould of what they like out of the position.

Just how much stock to put into this report is certainly debatable, but the good news is that we won’t have to wait very long, as free agency is not so far away, and the ‘legal tampering’ window is even closer upon us. Kinkhabwala also tied Bell’s deal in lowering his cap hit from the franchise tag value into their ability to pursue a top cornerback. Perhaps they saw the impact of Janoris Jenkins on the Giants last year.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • CP72

    If I remember correctly they showed a good bit of interest in Gilmore during the pre-draft process.

    I am firmly in the “Cockrell is a solid starter” camp. That being said it’s fun to think about upcoming Artie on one side and Gilmore on the other.

  • mokhkw

    Mis-information season, any reports about Steelers showing early interest in any FAs is smoke & mirrors.

    When Mitchell and Green were signed, I can’t recall hearing anything beforehand, or there was a report literally hours before the deal was signed.

    $s would be too rich for the Steelers atm for a CB who will have multiple teams looking at them I would think.

    I expect maybe a vet CB signing in July/August when the Steelers do their usual bargain-bin shopping with Golson and/or Gay being their motivation to do so.

    Reading between the lines (lies) makes me think the Steelers are interested in drafting a CB. Putting this FA CB story out there may encourage another team to hurry up & sign a FA CB meaning that is one less team that is looking for one early in the Draft.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Their eyes may be bigger than their stomachs on this one. Personally, I’d welcome a CB to help solidify the slot CB position. Golson can’t be counted on and Gay is a grandfather in NFL terms. I can’t possibly see us being a player for any of the top guys who are gonna command crazy money. CB’s are getting paid like RB’s used to. The league has shifted. That said, signing a CB would let us focus the draft elsewhere, and would allow the CB we likely WOULD still draft, to sort of come to us on our terms. If we signed a CB, I could see us waiting till the 3rd or 4th rd before we grabbed another one. Letting us look real hard at double-dipping at OLB and opening up the real possibility of grabbing a stud Offensive player somewhere in the first 3 picks. I still have my sights on Munnerlyn, Amukamara, and maybe Sterling Moore.

  • Michael James

    I’m absolutely for bringing in a high-end CB. People laughed at the Giants last year when they completely changed their defense via free agency. Well, they suddenly had one of the best defenses in the entire NFL. Good thing is, we don’t need that many new players, but a very good CB to play in the slot or on the opposite side of Burns (with Cockrell being a quality backup) could do wonders to our defense.

  • Guillermo Garcia-Gomez

    Cockrell has played decently but I don’t think any reasonable fan would argue that he could be the reason the steelers beat New England. He would be most valuable as the top back up if they had another top notch corner opposite of Burns. I’m all for the front office taking some chances considering there’s bound to be a few rough years once Ben retires, but I doubt they change their usual strategy. It’s hard to argue against them though considering they always put out a good team.

  • falconsaftey43

    I’d be all for bringing in a really good CB (don’t see it happening, but would love for it to). I don’t think I see the value in bringing in a Williams or Poe. They’re already going to re-sign Tuitt to a $10M/y deal and have Heyward. They only play 2 DL most of the time, so shelling out another $10M/y for a guy that’s going to play 30% of the time (and relegate Hargrave to bench) seems like a waste of money.

  • steelburg

    I really don’t see those guys listed above as real option I think they will be out of our price range. But I could see maybe a we make a run at Prince Amukamara, and soneone like Keyvon Webster would be more in our price range and possibly slight upgrades over Cockrell IMO. I have been of the mind set that Cockrell is the guy until he is beaten out for the position. I think we should tender Cockrell and bring someone in who could legitimately beat him out and see how it goes.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Really hope she’s not off here. They need someone who can solidify that position group.

  • Michael James

    I totally understand the argument against it. My point however is, that if you can get one of these guys to sign a team-friendly deal (unlikely, I know) it could be great for the overall defense. Even if he only plays 30-35% of the snaps, if they can shut down the run completely during those snaps it’s incredible value. That’s how the Giants D operated last season. Hargrave can rotate with Tuitt and Heyward in the Nickel formation, so he could easily get around 40-50% of the snaps, too.
    I know it probably won’t happen, but I would be all for it.

  • CP72

    Just would be soooo against the grain of what the Steelers do.

  • RickM

    If this was the draft, we’d expect it was a smokescreen. There are planted, false stories from ‘sources’ all the time before the draft. In free agency, not so much. But it still doesn’t make sense that they will target a major CB in free agency given the dollars needed and the key players Colbert still has to sign over the next 12 months (Tuitt and Shazier). The team has maxed out at $5 Million a year in free agents from other teams. I can see a mid-range CB being possible, but that’s it.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Sorry to say this but I believe she is off for the simple fact that the steelers front office (based off their history ) never show their hand before it’s delta and also likes to wait it out to see who’s left on the open market that they can get for cheap but I’m with you I hope they make some noise this off season sooner rather than later

  • Craig M

    Going to be a very interesting off season in player personnel, could lead to the foundation of a future dynasty- maybe just 2/3 key quality players away. IMO

  • Conserv_58

    Well, Matthew, if we go by what Kevin Colbert always says about keeping all of their options open then, of course they’re interested in the available free agent CB’s.

  • Steelers12

    Stephon Gilmore is at top of my list but i read Bears wanted him and no way we can get into bidding war with them

  • Guillermo Garcia-Gomez

    Totally agree and I don’t think they will do it, just saying I’d be a little more inclined to gamble knowing that Ben has what 3 years at best left?

  • Conserv_58

    This is the time on the NFL’s calendar year that is referred to as “The Silly Season”. This is when GMs and the player’s agents conduct their annual “Smoke-N-Mirrors” con jobs. Their goal is to massage, manipulate and maneuver the press in order to gain an advantage or leverage. It can be down right dizzying to try and wade through and decipher the BS from the truth.

  • Aj Gentile

    Could it be possible they want to do what New England did with Revis? Almost like rent a CB for a year or two to try and win a Superbowl?

  • Boots

    I’m all for adding as much competition to the CB position as possible. I really like the talent and depth of both CB and Safety positions in this draft, and I’d like to finally see the back end of the defense solidified for the next few years. There are some intriguing prospects in UFA but they generally want too much money and I normally would rather draft a kid and not have him be poisoned by another team!

  • Ni mo

    Cockrell is not good can’t cover , can’t tackle , stiff hips , too slow

  • Ni mo

    He’s the reason the Steelers give up yards he’s not good they need an upgrade over him

  • Guillermo Garcia-Gomez

    I wouldn’t label him “the reason the Steelers give up yards”, but I also don’t think he’s a shut down corner either. He played reasonably well just not well enough to compete against the best of the best. Like I said, we’d be best served to have him as the top back up and get an upgrade as a starter but it’s going to be really difficult with cap constraints, the steeler way in free agency, and the 30th pick.

  • NinjaMountie

    If I were wanting an big upgrade, I’d want it by getting a really good Nickle corner.

  • IndianaCarson

    The Steelers FO Management has a slight advantage to offer free agents in the bargaining process in that making it to the AFC championship game, the Steelers are considered by most folks(even outside of Steeler Nation) as having a very good chance of making it to and winning the Super Bowl. Yes, it is true that free agents want the maximum amount of money that they can get but getting money and being on a winning Super Bowl team is worth taking a slightly less offer from Pittsburgh versus some other teams with huge salary cap money to offer but may still end up with a losing season.

  • steelburg

    Ok

  • RickM

    The salary cap went up for all 32 teams. I think we’re fooling ourselves expecting a big upgrade. We won’t have the dollars to outbid teams for premium guys.

  • Matthew Marczi

    If you keep saying this all the time perhaps people will start believing you.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Yeah, I saw that too. I’m sure they DO have serious interest in all the top cornerbacks. They’re just most likely to be substantially outbid.

  • Steelers12

    damn i wanted him, oh well just draft and develop our own i guess

  • Dennis Nevinsky

    If the Steelers were serious about Cockrell being their long term starter, they would have given him a 2nd round tender. Now if he signs with another team, we can match or let him go and only get a 4th round draft pick.

  • SilverSteel

    I he was truly contemplating retirement this year, there is no way he has 3 more years left.