Fowler: Steelers Tender CB Ross Cockrell

The Pittsburgh Steelers have reportedly placed an original round tender on RFA corner Ross Cockrell, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

The tender will cost the team roughly $1.8 million in 2017. The original round tender means the Steelers will get a fourth round pick – the round Cockrell was drafted in 2014 – if another team signs him away. Other teams are allowed to negotiate with Cockrell and put in an offer. If the Steelers decide not to match, he goes to that club and the Steelers get a 4th.

Signed as a free agent after the Buffalo Bills released him, he became an almost immediate impact player for the Steelers. He started most of 2015 and became the full-time starter and the team’s best cover cornerback last year, finishing with 62 tackles and 14 pass breakups.

If retained, he should enter 2017 camp as the Steelers’ starting left cornerback.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Ni mo

    Why ? He’s not good dam dam shields , Dj Hayden ,Gilmore , prince , Webster , bouje all better than him

  • CP72

    Seems like a risky move. Another million and you get a 2nd round pick. That’s probably enough to scare teams off, but a 4th rounder may not. Maybe there’s some merit to the Steelers looking to upgrade Cockrell.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    For all those people who think the Steelers view Cockrell as our solution as a long term starting CB #2, this is a wake up call. A 4th round tender is nothing. We could very easily lose him this year.

  • Sam Clonch

    Original round? Not crazy about that. Expected a 2nd Rd tender.

  • Biggie

    Sounds about right, can always match.

  • falconsaftey43

    Um because he cost $1.8M and those other guys will cost 3-7 times that much. Gilmore is likely to get 12-15 per year.

  • falconsaftey43

    They do get the option to match. A team would have to sign him to a deal they are not willing to match for anything to happen. I don’t think they view him as the long term guy (as in, no need to even think about upgrading that spot) but I do think they view him as a viable starter until they find an upgrade.

  • Ni mo

    Um and they are 10 times better they have the money also , and we wonder why we can’t beat teams this guy gives up to much and he can’t tackle and he can’t open his hips , I rather have Dj Hayden or Webster

  • CP72

    Good point. Maybe they don’t think he will get an offer of 2.8 million/season (2nd round tender).

    The way teams throw around money in free agency I could see an offer exceeding that.

  • Michael James

    Yes, I don’t see the problem with a 4th round tender. Like you said, if a team wants to sign him away, the Steelers can still match that offer.

  • Ni mo

    True this guy is the weak link

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    That’s fair. With Justin Gilbert gone, our depth has really shriveled at CB. I think (hope) we draft a starting CB this year in round 1 or 2. At least by round 3.

    My gut says if someone makes an offer to Cockrell, it will be a team with a lot of cap space. And if they make an offer it will be one they know we can’t match. Otherwise, why give up a 4th round pick?

  • D.j. Hoy

    I’m not a huge fan of his, but right now they have no one else better to be the other outside corner. If you would rather have Will Gay be the corner opposite Artie, then you have issues because I’m pretty sure Boswell could beat Will Gay in a foot race at this point in his career. I like Gay as a shallow zone corner, because he’s smart and knows the system. His athletic ability has done a nosedive the past few years, though.

  • CP72

    Maybe, but we’re one crazy contract offer to Cockrell away from having Al Shabazz as a starter 🙂

  • Alex Kozora

    And it is pretty rare for a team to lose an RFA. I think Cockrell is safe.

  • CP72

    Cleveland could give him 3 years 12 million and it wouldn’t make a dent in their cap space….

  • Douglas Andrews

    Cockrell’s a decent CB. He had a few good games…Jets and Bengals game come to mind. I think he’s a solid CB but that’s it not very physical but solid in coverage. This tenders sounds about right for him. Steelers can always match if it’s a reasonable contract or they can let him walk and take the 4th rd pick.

  • Ni mo

    It was other FA for them to get

  • Ni mo

    Nope he’s not he give up to much , poor tackler , can’t flip his hips , MR PI he’s not good but oh well

  • Ni mo

    It’s other FA cb put there they can sign that better

  • WreckIess

    Dj Hayden can’t stay on the field because of injuries and general ineffectiveness. And Kayvon Webster is a career special teamer. I wouldn’t say either one of them are better than Cockrell.

  • Jason

    “We wonder why we can’t beat teams?” Lol. I’m pretty sure we were a game away from the Super Bowl so we must have beaten teams. Yes we struggle with NE but evidently we aren’t the only ones. Smh.

  • Steeler4l1f3

    This is our FO’s MO and business 101. Bid low, allow the market to factor in the value and analyze the risks vs cost benefit. They have the option to match but aren’t going to over pay.

    I think we can get to a SB with our secondary and think Cockrell is an above avg starter. Hope it works out as our draft strategy changes if he is not in the mix.

  • falconsaftey43

    Right now, Cockrel is at least in the top 2 CBs on the team, and he’s cheap. You need 3-4 CBs that are able to play. Not all of them are going to be great. Signing Cockrel on the cheap doesn’t prevent you from signing a big name CB as well. It’s just about relative value. You need guys like Cockrel on your team, even if it’s in a 3rd-4th CB role.

  • dany

    Good for Poor Man’s Polamalu

    definitely doesn’t seem the steelers are sold on him. At worst he’s a passable starting CB in this league, any team with a worse CB depth chart than the steelers and more money can just give away their 4th pick and he’s their. On the other hand, a 4th round pick for the steelers guarantees nothing in terms of a starter. But I know, unlikely

  • capehouse

    Original round? Wow that seems like a mistake. Maybe we will go after a CB in free agency after all. Might just go after an outside CB in the draft too instead of a slot CB

  • Ike Evans

    In the long run artie is just a better player then ross but come on guys….youre buggin if u think this guy was the weak link…he was by far our best corner all year long….and most consistent….hed be a great value at that price

  • capehouse

    Kind of what I was thinking. Cockrell’s starting spot doesn’t seem so secure now.

  • Alex Kozora

    Preach!

  • falconsaftey43

    Want to know what $1.8M gets you at CB on the open market? Josh Robinson 2.0, Marcus Sherels 2.0, Ron Brooks 1.85, Jerraud Powers 1.75, Leon Hall 1.5, Antwon Blake 1.5.

    Cockrel at 1.8 is a bargin.

  • Sonny Saks

    Just a sign Gilmore is coming!!

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Shocker. I thought he’d go for at least a 3rd.

  • WreckIess

    For him there was no option for a 3rd. Only 1st, 2nd, Original round, and Right to first refusal.

  • RickM

    The tender is not overly respectful to Cockrell, but if some team wants to offer him $3 M the Steelers will simply match it. In the meantime, if they can save a million they’re doing it.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    A few good games? He’s been the 2nd best cb for us in last 5 years.

  • george

    Really Cockrell wasn’t the reason NE beat us!

  • mokhkw

    Spot on. Some people are just blind h8ters unfortunately.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Exactly.

  • WreckIess

    Good move. Get our starter back for cheap and potentially get a 4th back if someone was to sign him away. I’m not sure if we can negotiate a contract with him while he’s under an RFA tender, but if so this is a great way to keep other teams away while they work on a contract.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Well 2nd then.

  • WreckIess

    Yeah it definitely would’ve deterred a lot of teams, but I guess they didn’t think the 2.7 mil was necessary. Maybe they don’t think other teams will make an attempt?

  • NW86

    Seems crazy that our starting CB and backup OL got the same tender offers. Cockrell>Hubbard. I would have not tendered Hubbard and just offered him $1M or so as a free agent, and I would have used the 2nd round tender on Cockrell.

  • Ni mo

    5 years lol he hasn’t been there that long and burns is better

  • Ni mo

    And he was getting beat all year

  • Ni mo

    He’s not starter material and they have him starting that’s my issue

  • Ni mo

    I would cockrell is slow and he don’t have fluid hip movement I think they need to sign a vet and move cockrell to the 4rth corner

  • Ni mo

    But he was the reason why they gave up a lot of yards and missed tackles

  • Ni mo

    Oh how many losses the Steelers had to teams the suppose to have won ? He’s not starter material

  • falconsaftey43

    Well last year he was 100% one of their two best CBs, arguably their best. But there is nothing guaranteeing him a starting spot this year. They’ll likely draft someone, they could still sign another FA, Golson might finally be healthy and compete. It’s fine if you don’t like a guy as a starter, but you can’t only have starter quality guys on the roster. They aren’t paying Cockrell starter money, not even close to it. So it’s fine. He is a very good player for the amount of money he’s making, that’s what determines if it’s a good or bad signing.

  • falconsaftey43

    He ran a faster 40 than Burns, just saying.

  • WreckIess

    He ran a 4.5 at the combine. I wouldn’t call him a speedster, but he’s definitely not slow. As for his hips he has some stiffness I guess. It’s nothing remarkable though. Like it or not, his style of play fits the scheme. Bigger corner with a big enough football IQ to read offenses and enough speed to make plays on the ball. He’s not a strong tackler, but that can be developed. He’s only 25 and last season was only his 3rd season. He’s still growing.

  • Ni mo

    Bens is better and he’s a rookie they can upgrade over Ross and have him for depth

  • Ni mo

    I doubt he did but burns is better

  • Ni mo

    Well I don’t know what y’all see in the guy I just think they can do better , every time I see he’s getting beat and if not that Hess not being a sure tackler being 6″1

  • Ni mo

    Burns ran 4.4 cockroach 4.5

  • falconsaftey43

    Burns ran 4.46 at combine Ross ran 4.56 at combine 4.44 at pro day (per nfl draft scout). I was going by mockdraftable which typically uses best values from either.

  • steelersfan

    The fact that they did an original round tender for a starting cb is telling to me. Id be shocked if another team tries signing him but still….a team wasn’t going to give up 2 first rounders for bell either and they still gave him the exclusive tag. Think they are valuing cockrell correctly though- he’s not the long term answer.

  • LucasY59

    I dont disagree with you, but the Steelers not putting a 2nd rd tender on him makes me think the Steelers arent as worried about losing their best CB from last yr (this yr it better be Burns) as I thought they should be

  • LucasY59

    I would like them to double up in the Draft and get one of each

  • SteelersDepot

    Personally, I will be surprised if Cockrell is given an offer sheet from another team to sign.

  • Ike Evans

    Guys even with 4th round tenders are rarely picked up by other teams….very rarely…so i think thats just a perception thing

  • Reggie Cunningham

    2 cb in the draft and 1 free agent. Do we really need a rb in the draft?

  • steelersfan

    I’m hoping that this means the Steelers believe they can do better at the position and that’s a good thing. The fact that they value him at this price makes me hopeful we can expect a first or second round draft pick or a FA. Cockrell wont be going anywhere but the fear another team only has to give up a 4th isn’t my main takeaway from this news- its that the Steelers don’t view him as a corner worthy of 2nd round tender.

  • LucasY59

    I dont think they are extremely worried either, they should be able to keep him, and it saves them a million, but I still think it shows that they dont think it would the end of the world if someone did sign him away

  • steelersfan

    I don’t think another team will pick him up but it’s still revealing the Steelers didn’t want to pay him a little more to ensure he wouldn’t leave. This shows they don’t deem him worthy of a 2nd round tender. Think they want to bring someone in either through the draft or FA to battle Cockrell for that spot.

  • steelersfan

    Exactly

  • Mark P

    I think they should have used the 2nd round tender, a million extra is worth it in this scenario. He is a decent starter, some team with a ton of cap room is going to drive his price up, even for a forth round pick. Can’t trust or Gay and Golston right now either…

  • Austin Willie

    I say we draft anothe cb and move him to the slot

  • JohnnyFootball

    The team that penny pinches a million on a starting corner is going to hand out 100m in signing bonuses this offseason, signing everyone under the sun. Right. This is Sanders all over again. But we have so much depth at corner we will be fine,

  • LucasY59

    hmmm, at first I was surprised that they didnt give him a 2nd rd, but the more I think about it the only way they would do that is IF they thought another team was going to sign him away (kinda baiting them to sign him so they can get an extra early pick) if they are wanting to keep him no matter what they can still match any offer (kinda like what happened with Manny Sanders when he was a RFA, belicheat made an offer and the Steelers had to pay more than they originally had wanted to, but they also wanted to keep him around so they matched the offer instead of getting a 3rd rd pick from the hateriots)

    it could also kinda backfire like it did with the Broncos last yr (try and save a million and end up paying a lot more, with CJ Anderson they had to pay 5 mill so it really didnt save them at all, but since he was a UDFA they really set themselves up since any team could try and sign him with no risk of losing a pick) but the Steelers dont overpay and IF a team makes a offer that is too much over his value then they would let him go

  • steelersfan

    Fresh legs from a deep RB class…I’d draft one over signing a FA this year.

  • Daniel

    Ross wasn’t getting beat one on one it was gay who couldn’t stick one on one

  • Douglas Andrews

    Yes sir last year’s Bills and Bengals he did a good job on B Marshall and AJ Green albeit with help over the top. Ross as your starter is okay but Ross as your 3rd CB (Behind a good man press CB and A Burns) makes for a pretty good secondary.

  • francesco

    Somebody please take him away.
    Do the Steelers a favor for once!

  • Douglas Andrews

    Lol so that would mean 2 years ago he was the second best cb behind Blake lmao!

  • Ni mo

    Burns ran 4.4 cockroach 4.5

  • Peki

    Someone enlighten me: what’s with the constant complaining about Cockrell? So he’s not Rod Woodson Jr., but he’s a good young player, and was solid for us all of last year at a position where we are historically lacking. I trust the Steelers know what they’re doing with the 4th round tender, but it would be a real loss to have him signed away.

  • Ni mo

    It was Ross too

  • Ni mo

    I feel you and I respect what you saying I just don’t like him I don’t think he’s good , I think he’s soft and number 4 cb at best , I’m hopping they can sign a vet give him more time to learn

  • RickM

    The constant complaining is from folks who watch the games and are only interested in focusing on his bad plays. Admitting he makes some good plays gets in the way of their strong bias against him. He’s not an elite CB and no one here is pretending that. But he was definitely serviceable this past year, and he had some pretty good games actually. Hopefully we haven’t seen his ceiling yet.

  • SfSteeler

    yet another player making more than Harrison

  • Brendon Glad

    I like Cockrell….If the price is right.

    People tend to get it twisted when they “hate-on” a player. It’s all about value.

    This isn’t baseball. Where literally the only person affected by the salary is the owner. So the only reason for fans to brag or lament about value is if the owner has publicly stated what his threshold is for spending/profit/loss.

    In football, it’s different. If Ross Cockrell signs his tender, then his cap value is 1.8 mil. Since Mike Mitchell is the most overpaid player on the team, in my opinion…I will use him as an example. Mike Mitchell’s cap hit next yr will be about 5X that much if all things stay the same as they are right now.
    So if both are Steelers next year, then in its purist form, we should expect Mike Mitchell to be 5X more effective than Cockrell. He should make 5X more plays. Make 5X less mistakes. Get 5X more votes for pro-bowl. Have a %grade on PFF that is 5X better than Cockrell. And so on and so forth. Those numbers are never pure…because for example creating game plan issues become a holistic element to the plot of those raw proclamations. As in, when Antonio Brown consistently draws a double or triple team…or LBell consistently forces an extra man in the box…that is why it can never be as simple as the pureness of my earlier “5X” comment. But it still is a great way to look at it.
    And the same can be said on the other end…If Cockrell at 1.8 is making 5X what some rookie Undrafted FA is making at DB….then he needs to be 5X better as well in the same way.

    1.8 mil for Cockrell will be excellent. I think if they give him a 4/10 mil contract they will be happy in the end.

  • AndyR34

    Oh…but he has SO much more ‘upside’…which is the only thing that matters to some of our brethren.

  • steelburg

    Your funny man. You act like developing a cornerback is easy. You know how often teams miss on first round corners? The team made it look easy this past year, we basically hit on almost every pick even the 7th rounder. But that is so far from the normal that it’s not even funny. Its hard to develop a cornerback and just as hard to get one in free agency and have them have success in your system. So keep that in mind when you keeping saying draft soneone or get a free agent, those 2 options still don’t guarantee even the small level of success that Cockrell has had.

  • Brendon Glad

    I think DB is the Steelers weak link…and I agree with you that Cockrell is not “top-end”. And I think the Steelers need to keep drafting DB’s until they nail it. But you have to rob Peter to pay Paul, sometimes. The hard-salary-cap guarantees that. You can’t have top-tier players across the board…because these players aren’t stupid. They will want to be paid accordingly at some point.

    You remember how “loaded” the Seahawks seemed when they had a 300k QB who was playing at a Pro-Bowl level? Well, now he’s making elite-qb $…and they don’t seem so loaded anymore.
    Cockrell at 1.8mil would be good value, in my opinion. Just like William Gay has always given the Steelers good value at his contract level. And if he’s not as good as the CB’s who are making 10mil/yr…that’s because he shouldn’t be.

    But I’m not trying to start an argument. In general, I think the Steelers “neglect” the CB position both in salary and in drafting priority or drafting skill. And it becomes exposed against teams like the Patriots.

    I just happen to like Cockrell more than you do. I see him as a Will Gay type. And Gay has always been a contract friendly and decently effective player. A guy you’d hate if he was making 5/60mil….but a guy you should love at 3/6…and so forth.

  • Robert E Lil

    This is just a general question minus any thinking about salary cap.

    Is Darrell Revis a better corner than Cockrell?
    And Revis is one of the worse free agent CBs available….

  • RickM

    Lol, most fans can just read a CB depth chart.

  • Ni mo

    Revis is better even tho he lost a step

  • francesco

    Can’t cover and can’t tackle.other than that…

  • Robert E Lil

    I’d agree. Which means the worst free agent corner is better than perhaps our best corner. Can you imagine! And all I hear about is an “edge rusher”. This is why opposing teams are throwing at a greater frequency than ever – the Steelers are not adapting in the same way the refused to adapt in that dreadful NE game

  • Michael Mosgrove

    i didnt say he was here 5 years. i said in the last 5 years. he has been the second best. that includes players before him that he was better than. saying burns is better is idiotic.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    thats the only thing i can think of. cockrell is a starter for many many teams in this league.

  • WreckIess

    At this point in his career? No. Revis is better off retired than on a football field.

  • Robert E Lil

    Even if you believe that …it’s close. In other words the washed up, should be retired Revis is at best a little worse than Cockrell (I think he’s much better) What does that say about the secondary?

  • SilverSteel

    Why aren’t we signing this guy now considering the lack of depth at the position? Again, after the AB contract we have to be frugal with everyone now. Cockrell is a good corner and plays with intelligence. This is not a smart move.

  • SilverSteel

    That is not a good assessment of his skills and you know it. Cockrell is better than average CB bordering on good. We are way weak at the position right now after inexplicably not letting Gilbert compete this camp – which there would be no harm in doing. Our coaches even praised the way Gilbert worked and played in practice (which translates to the games) according to Tomlin – so why? I just don’t get this team sometimes.

  • WreckIess

    I think the problem is that you assume it’s close when it’s not. Revis was absolutely awful last season. He allowed 67% of the passes against him to be completed, gave up 3 TDs, and only had 5 passes defended which was tied for 155th in the league. He had one more pass defense than Jarvis Jones and the same about as Antwon Blake. Cockrell had 14 by the way. Which was tied for 30th in the league. The best part of Revis’ game last season was tackling the guys who caught all the passes he let up.

  • SilverSteel

    Just what I was thinking.

  • SilverSteel

    This was not a good move at all. We are so weak at the position. You are right – at the very least he is a great backup if someone can unseat him – and no rookie will this season cause we pick 30. But, this is the kind of no-sense moves you have to make after the AB team breaking contract. Bell will only make it worse. The repercussions of these MEGA signings will be felt for years as it affects everyone else on the team. The Browns could and should pick this guy up – and they get all of our Defensive plays to boot. First Harrison’s insulting offer, now this? I imagine Cockrell feels like we really want him right now – great for his confidence… 🙁

  • SilverSteel

    We struggled with more than NE bro…

  • Robert E Lil

    I hear you and probably am being too tough on Cockrell But he had zero picks. Zero in sixteen games! He’s not a good tackler. I just hate the status quo…of low level talent learning the system. There’s such little value on such an important position. Artie Burns standing out was an indication of how poor that group is

  • John Pennington

    Let another team pick him up and take the draft pick.The steelers can upgrade through the draft and get a player more physical than Ross who help more against the run than Ross and who can tackle better than Ross..This draft is loaded with corners and safties get what the team need

  • John Pennington

    Let another team match the offer and take the draft pick.There are better players in this draft to replace Ross.Players who can tackle better play the run better and who can cover better and help on special teams.Draft 2 corners and get another safety to get to replace Mitchell this is the draft to do it.

  • Nick Sabatella

    he’s the softest tackling CB i’ve seen in Pittsburgh in a while.

  • Aj Gentile

    Lol “can’t cover”

  • Aj Gentile

    Lol no he’s not. Stop lying

  • Aj Gentile

    It’s not close what so ever

  • Jason

    In that scenario we’d have 2 3rd rd picks (1 being the comp pick) and then rd 4 pick #1 and 30. I’d take that.

  • Michael Conrad

    I agree . I think he was exposed a little last year and while we all hope Burns improves and I think he will. We have Gay who is in my opinion at the end of the line and Cockrell. I think we need two CB and I have seen enough of Mitchell to know someone better is needed. This team needs a better push from the D line and linebackers and better DB play. I would draft five defensive players and a TE , WR ,RB and maybe a QB depending on if they sign one key free agent at one of the positions of need.