Which Steelers CB Is Sweating Most Right Now While Awaiting Haden News?

I’d imagine that most of you are in a full-blown black and gold lather right now being as it’s being widely reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers are currently the frontrunner to land former Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden. It goes without saying that we shouldn’t be on the edge of our seats very long as Haden will almost assuredly sign with a new team within the next 24 hours. While we wait, however, let’s ponder which Steelers cornerback is most-likely to lose his roster spot should Haden ultimately land in Pittsburgh.

Ross Cockrell – Personally, I think Cockrell might be sweating right now. He hasn’t played well so far during the preseason and if ultimately overtaken by Coty Sensabaugh on the depth chart, he could find himself on the outside looking in should Haden land in Pittsburgh. Cockrell isn’t much of a special teams asset and certainly can’t play inside. To make matters worse, he’s scheduled to earn $1.797 million in 2017 and thus releasing him would help the Steelers absorb whatever they might ultimately sign Haden for.

Mike Hilton – The Steelers 2017 training camp and preseason darling looks like a roster lock right now. With that said, the undersized former undrafted free agent isn’t experienced and is only slot-capable to boot. If Cockrell doesn’t go, perhaps Hilton will find himself waived and potentially on the Steelers practice squad by next week should Haden sign with the Steelers.

William Gay – Would the Steelers really cut Gay if Haden were ultimately signed? I suppose it’s possible but with rookie draft pick Cameron Sutton still needing some polishing and Haden, if ultimately signed, likely to play on the outside, Gay could still open the regular season as the team’s starting slot cornerback. While he is on the wrong side of 30 years of age, Gay can still get it done on special teams as well. Additionally, he can be an emergency safety option should the need ever arise during a game.

Coty Sensabaugh – The Steelers signed Sensabaugh to a two-year free agent contract this year and that alone leads one to believe his job would still be safe should the team ultimately sign Haden. Sensabaugh has more position flexibility than Cockrell does and while not a special teams demon by any stretch of the imagination, his play in that phase of the game is still likely stronger than Cockrell’s.

  • Josh Gustad

    Bye Cockrell

  • T3xassteelers

    Cockrell seems like a good dude, but sorry man. You’re it.

  • falconsaftey43

    Cockrel or Gay IMO. Cockrel would be a 1 for 1 swap. Gay would be replaced by having Sensabaugh as an option in the slot. Hilton or Sensabaugh would battle to start there.

  • falconsaftey43

    I really have no idea what kind of player Haden actually is. I only watch Browns when we play them, so all I’ve seen is AB destroying him, but that hardly means he’s bad. I know he was a pro bowler and highly regarded in 2013-2014. but last two years he has been hurt, and seems his reputation as a top flight CB has been severely diminished.

  • Josh Gustad

    Burns, Haden, Sensabaugh, Gay, Sutton, Hilton at CB with Mitchell and Sean Davis at safety. I don’t hate it. Wish safety depth was better.

  • Dorian James

    Cockrell does have the least amount of position flexibility.
    Thanks Shane M

  • SmellyHobo

    The hard part is just picking one.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Adam Schefter is now reporting that the Steelers are the favorite to sign Haden.

  • Dorian James

    Dave is there any chance they go three safeties and cut golden?

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Speaking of safeties, I would love for the Steelers to at least inquire of the Broncos what it would take to get T.J. Ward—as Denver is apparently shopping him.

  • SteelersDepot

    Man, with Mitchell coming off injury and Golden slated to be ST captain again. Might be tough to enter 2017 season with just 3 safeties even though Gay can play deep in case emergency. Regardless, Golden’s time in Pittsburgh won’t last too much longer as he’s just a guy.

  • falconsaftey43

    I’d be more excited about that honestly than Haden.

  • Thomas

    I still have a lot of mixed feelings on Cockrell, things have looked ugly of late but I have this very recent memory of him more than holding his own against the likes of A.J Green , is he regressing?

  • T3xassteelers

    Isn’t TJ more of a SS though?

  • george

    He played with 2 groin injuries last year (much like Mitchell did 2 years ago). He had the injuries surgically repaired. Hue Jackson wants to keep him but Moneyball Sashi Brown says he costs too much. He’s a solid locker room guy and if healthy would be our best CB other than Artie.

  • falconsaftey43

    Yeah I believe, but Davis can play either spot if TJ is more of an in the box guy.

  • RickM

    It’ll just be a matter of time before Haden is hurt. Sorry but I believe that multiple injuries over several consecutive years matters a lot. So figure out who would be the best back-up to Haden and go from there. Gay and Hilton are safe in my opinion, so it’ll be down to Cockrell or Sensabaugh. I would keep Cockrell, but with no contract next year his status may be the most fragile.

  • falconsaftey43

    Yeah I knew he was hurt. Hope if they do get him he’s healthy and in his 2014 form. that’d be amazing.

  • T3xassteelers

    True. I just think Mitchells spot is pretty safe for at least 1 more year haha

  • StrengthOfVictory

    He’s hardly rising. I know I expected him to take a step forward. But he just looked so slow, so behind, so late in the preseason. I’m not saying the Steelers need a world-beater on the outside, but they can’t afford a liability…and that’s what he’s looking like these days.

  • Zarbor

    I agree but remember, he was playing for Cleveland. If he’s healthy, he will be motivated to play for a contender and he gets to go against AB and Martavis in practice. At this point, he’s better than what we currently have so it definitely worth the risk but we can’t overpay for him.

  • george

    Let’s put it this way..he’s no Justin Gilbert. He’s a team guy with great work ethic.

  • falconsaftey43

    Yeah it’s odd. Don’t know what the deal is, but he certainly looks much worse than he did last year. Hurt? Too much man coverage (although looked fine doing that at times last year)? Really is that dependent on film study (if so, you should be doing that now anyway because you look bad and your job is on the line)?

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Percentage chance the Steelers have made a call (at least) about T.J. Ward? Lost of people saying before the draft that they could use a versatile safety piece to move around in formations.

  • WreckIess

    I said it in the other article, but to me it’s Sensabaugh. Sure he has the position flexibility, but if you’re bad at both positions who really cares about that? He does have special teams value over Cockrell, but neither one has played much special teams to begin with. Sensabaugh has played 8 snaps and Cockrell has played 2.

  • falconsaftey43

    Yeah, more of an issue with Mitchell’s health and the fact that we don’t have a 3rd safety. Could us TJ as an ILB on passing downs in place of Williams. TJ is just a really good player.

  • Dorian James

    That ST Captian spot should be Rosie’s by now? Agreed on gay playing some safety as he’s the hardest hitting corner on the team

  • CoaltownSteeler

    And no special teams value, since tackling suspect, at best.

  • falconsaftey43

    Yeah, exact opposite of him. Haden was always a technique guy, seems like a good dude too.

  • SouthernSteel

    I would add Golden to the db’s sweating right now… Haden signing could force someone else to move to safety.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I think Sensabaugh is a perfect fit for Dime packages, and his experience in the slot makes him valuable. And he’s reportedly had a better preseason than Cockrell so far.

  • Zarbor

    CB is a bigger issue than safety for now. Instead of picking JuJu and Dobbs we could have gotten a young backup safety since Mitchell is always getting hurt. If Golden has to come in the game, give the other team 7 immediately.

    TJ would be good but those Denver corners helps him a ton. Plus I’m not sure I’m comfortable with all these former Brownies….lol

  • TroymanianDevil

    But I imagine the asking price is actually something, unlike this where Haden got cut. He’s only got 1 year left on his deal so it’s basically a 1yr rental. And we’d have to absorb the cap hit. I feel like 5th rounder should be enough

  • CP72

    He would be the largest cap savings at 1.79 million.

  • treeher

    We’ll need his inside knowledge this year to beat the Browns. 🙂

  • treeher

    I don’t miss him already

  • CP72

    He’s probably the most reliable guy out there.

  • T R

    someone needs to report how accurate Adam is in his favorite predictions… Especially the Steelers

  • SteelerSurfer

    All of them, except Burns.

  • Ace

    MM hasn’t missed a game since signing with the Steelers and hasn’t missed a game since becoming a starter in the NFL. Being “hurt” is one thing, my guess is every NFL player is hurt to a certain degree. As a fan base we should probably stop with the Mike Mitchell is always hurt thing. He is the primary enforcer on this team and lays the lumber. Considering the amount of high impact plays he is involved in, and the amount of games he has missed (ZERO) I’d say he is a pretty reliable player in that secondary.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    LOL. Comment of the week.

    Seriously though. Take a step backwards and look at our team as a non-Steelers fan. Let’s say you are Tom Brady and you’re standing in shotgun formation scanning our CB’s. Does Willie Gay put any fear in your heart whatsoever?… No.

    Then look over at Ross Cockrell. Does his presence prevent you calling any play in your playbook?… No… In fact, he encourages you to throw there.

    At least Burns is capable of making an interception. At least Hilton will break on the football. Besides that we look a lot like the Colts secondary. “Just hurry up and score a TD so we can get the ball back and try to score ourselves.”

    If I’m Colbert, I’m looking to replace Cockrell AND Gay AND Sensabaugh. Hilton and Sutton I keep. At least they could improve with time.

  • melblount

    WOW, with LBell reporting soon and TE addressed, if we sign Haden, what will posters here have to complain about?

    Just kidding. I know there are countless other things the FO and/or the Steelers are doing dreadfully bad/wrong.

  • SteelerSurfer

    Even if Steelers get Haden Cockrell is still the 3rd best cb on the team, not going anywhere. It is the preseason after all why so many jumping the gun on Cockrell?

  • SteelerSurfer

    Your not kidding and you know it, which is unfortunate.

  • Nolrog

    Adam Schefter is reporting that today is the favorite to be Thursday.

  • Nolrog

    Don’t worry Mel, Tomlin will put a bad loss out of his *** and we’ll complain about that. Maybe in Week 1 too.

  • Paul Rainey

    Nothing like strengthening your roster by picking up players from the 49’ers and Browns. WHAAAT?

  • RickM

    I guess I look at the stuff below as a number of pretty knowledgeable fans sharing their opinions about multiple players. If this is meant to be a sis-boom-bah fan club with pompoms, my bad lol.

  • SteelerSurfer

    LOL, that’s one way of looking at it but both are salary cap casualties with some talent. And both fit Steeler needs.

  • Steeler-Drew

    Cockrell makes the most sense to be sweating it out from a playing and financial standpoint. No value with special teams or to play nickel. No cap hit next year and Sensabaugh signed a two year contract. I highly doubt he is going anywhere. Plus Gay will be a good teammate with a veteran presence to help Hilton and Sutton.

  • francesco

    I agree. Wait for cuts from Patriots regarding CB and/ or Safety.

  • SteelerSurfer

    You misunderstand, referring to trade and signing of McDonald and possibly signing Haden. I have many complaints Dobbs is #1 but I like these two. Shows the Steelers are trying.

  • capehouse

    Front runner? What’d I miss? I thought we were just one of several teams interested.

  • RickM

    It’s a funny/strange point in terms of where they came from, but yes it’s their playing pedigree that matters.

  • Hyped Up Hypocycloid

    Probably a reference to a Shefter Tweet calling us out as the team to watch.

  • Zarbor

    Talk about missing the point. Dude no one was making a case for or against Mitchell. You seem to be his number one fan but the point was that if Mitchell is out a game we have NO DEPTH behind him. Despite that fact, we have no real talent on the CB opposite Burns and that’s a bigger need. That’s the point.

    BTW you need to know the difference between starting a game and finishing a game. Yes, MM has started every game but if you would take time to watch the games you will see that Mitchell gets hurt a lot in games. Where he has to come out for plays or even the rest of the game. So just because many of us don’t have MM jersey or bobble head figurine like you, it doesn’t mean we consider him unreliable.

    Well, some do but not me.

  • TroymanianDevil

    The thing about complainers is that they always find something to complain about. They might even complain about me complaining about complainers

  • SteelerSurfer

    Cockrell is getting singled out by many, he played good last year. Maybe he has digressed but it’s only the preseason.

  • RickM

    Was actually referring to the first comment, and should have clicked on that done. Sorry.

  • SteelerSurfer

    Gotcha

  • ATL96STEELER

    If it were me, Gay would be gone…you have 3 guys that can play inside that are probably better than Gay…Hilton, Sensabaugh and Sutton.

    I’d keep Cockrell because he’s becomes your outside back up…If Sutton had more hours on him, I’d release Cockrell, but as it stands, he’d be the only back up CB with size and experience.

  • RickM

    I agree. It’s not a large sample size, Mitchell is injured and he has a different ILB in front of him. I look at last year’s play as the barometer. That said, I think there are some other ‘non pre-season play’ things working against him as folks have mentioned.

  • Quan Hurst

    Trade gay eli and 5th rd pk for fuller and 4th. Sign haden cut Coty

  • Roberto Vaquero Bazán

    Every team has talent in their roster and I think specally Haden would be a great asset, normally good teams like tha Pats cuts The Crap, They know how to evaluate talent!

  • Doug

    You think the Bears would do that?? Hahahahaha

  • Zarbor

    Not so fast. Haden was making 11M and did not want to take a cut. I just don’t see us paying that for a guy like that. The price looks to be too steep if he wasn’t willing to take a pay cut. I’m out.

  • srdan

    Cockrell always relied on his smarts. The preseason you don’t watch film, and don’t really game plan. I think thsi handicaps him for this part of the year. He will never be a great corner, but he is good.

  • RickM

    The odds of Fuller being available are exceptionally low.

  • Quan Hurst

    They need a reciever and someone to replace fuller

  • Dorian James

    To replace Mitchell?

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Everybody slow down. This is like the 7th CB the Steelers have been linked to since the start of free agency. I don’t think he intimately ends up in Pittsburgh.

  • SteelerSurfer

    We can hope though and discussion is entertaining.

  • SteelerSurfer

    Yes, now that Prince has ankle issue.

  • SteelerSurfer

    Patriots don’t cut good players they trade them and keep on winning. Now I’m sad 😭

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Oh ya. And I do hope that we get him. Lord knows we could use the help. Lol

  • Steeler-Drew

    Not be me. I said they Steelers should be eyeing his and Gay’s replacement last year. They knew after the Patriots game they needed to employ more man coverage. Cockrell was a zone corner coming out of college and still is one. He’s not athletic, physical, or fast enough for what they want to do. Simply he doesn’t have the traits of a Burns.

  • SteelerSurfer

    Hopefully TJ and Dupree with a little help from Harrison get major pressure on QB’s this season and take some pressure off the back end of the D.

  • I already had Gay only barely making my 53, so I’d have to cut him if they sign Haden. The fact is Gay is trending downward re his skills, production, and career. It’s time to move on and develop young talent.

  • Ace

    I didn’t miss the point. Reminding you of his role in the defense and the amount of time he has missed doesn’t make me a fanboy. Lotta people coming down on MM these days. I was keying on the comment within the point. “Mitchel is always getting hurt.” He isn’t always getting hurt. He has been healthy for the most part his entire PS career. You just so happened to be the one I made a point to remind of that. I know the difference between starting and finishing a game. All players get banged up during the course of a game. That’s football. And I don’t have a bobble head (that’s dumb) or a MM jersey. I have two jersey. A 36 and a 43. I’m glad we both consider MM a reliable player and both see CB as a big issue.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Cut Golden and move gay to safety permanently.

  • Steelers12

    Exactly

  • srdan

    If cockrell played as well as he did last year, do you want him on this team?

  • srdan

    He is a heady player. In the preseason you don’t watch tape or game plan. I think that handicaps him.

    I agree with you, he is better at zone cover than MC.

  • srdan

    But this is the most plausible one.

  • KiJana Haney

    Cockrell because of the cap hit seems to be in the most trouble for this. Given his lack of special teams ability if they sign haden I think cockrell will be cut on final cuts day. Gay could as well be cut on that day but he is more of a voice in the locker room also he can play special teams. If this signing happens they hopefully our secondary concerns can be behind us. If you would have told me that we get cb depth, a former top 10 pick for dl depth, a returner, a former pro bowl cb, and a stretch through trades and free agency I would be pumped. When haden signs this will be our best offseason in a long time.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    except the fact that he has been fine in the games and was fine in camp to dispute your claim. as for last year he was injured prior to the bye week and continued to play.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    what are you smoking? because thats some strong stuff.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    so youre going to get rid of the only guy with real experience? burns hasnt turned that corner yet and sense is new to the system.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    im going to blame rapp. he always puts out dumb crap like that.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    lets not forget that cockrell came in as FOURTH round pick and still saved our butts multiple times.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    we should never have let eric rowe go to the pats.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    im complaining about you complaining about the complainers complaining about you for complaining about the complainers that complain on you.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    i see your sensa and raise you hubbard. highly touted as playing every position on the o line including tight end but is terrible at tackle is average at guard and is horrible at center.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    its preseason and he isnt trying?

  • Michael Mosgrove

    or dhb should be st captain.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    every freakin former brown doesnt need to come here. gilbert. haden. ward. ward is a douchebag. lest we forget his nonsense.

  • Hec

    Sign him Yay or Nay?

  • ATL96STEELER

    Good point on the experience factor, but I’d like to think Burns and Davis (for that matter) both should play faster with less thinking this season….it’s kind of a rock and a hard place for me, but in this case, yes, I’d release Gay if I had to…Since Gay does have ST skills I might keep 8.

    I’m not sold on 4 TEs…I can see, McDonald, James, Johnson, or McDonald, James, Grimble…I don’t like all 4.

  • Conserv_58

    The one thing that goes in Gay’s favor is the fact that he’s the only vested veteran in that room with multiple years of experience in the Steelers’ system. He may not be able to play on the outside anymore, but he’s still got enough game left to keep his spot as a valuable back up slot corner. Other than Gay and to some degree, Cockrell, the rest of the corners vary in their levels of competence, development and experience.

    I have my concerns and reservations about bringing in a guy that the Browns no longer want. If he still had above average game then why would the Browns cut him? Is he an upgrade over what the Steelers already have in Cockrell and Sensabaugh? Remembering what happened the last time the Steeler signed a browns CB I’m not sold on the idea of signing Haden.

  • Conserv_58

    Ney. I don’t want a repeat of what happened the last time Colbert signed a browns CB.

  • Conserv_58

    You work for the browns, don’t you?

  • pcantidote

    I don’t know what to think. Guys like this almost always get cut because there are hidden injury concerns or just an overall decline in talent. But then, he is still probably better than our corners and, it’s the Browns, so they are probably making a mistake.

  • Conserv_58

    I stopped at, “probably better than Gay”. It makes absolutely no sense what so ever to cut the only veteran CB they have with multiple years of experience in their system. Furthermore, Will Gay has still got game, just not on the outside.

  • Conserv_58

    Why? Gay has zero experience playing safety.

  • Iulo

    well.. yeah! but Golden is not a starter… at safety you will have Davis/Mitchell…
    then a backup in dangerfield…

  • WreckIess

    This is about CBs and they’re not cutting Hubbard. He’s the swing tackle.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    im still going with my cb corp of 6. burns, gay, sutton, hilton, sensa and cockrell.

    as for te. id keep the new guy, dj and grimble. grimble while inconsistent as a receiver is a better blocker and pass protector than jesse. and xavier is a better combat catcher.

  • Jeff Dudash

    He wouldn’t get 11M. It’s one thing to be willing to take a pay cut to stay with the Browns, it’s another thing to take a pay cut once he’s a FA. Also, it doesn’t say how much of a cut they wanted him to take.

    I’m guessing he’d want a 1-year deal. 1 year $5 million is my guess for what he finally gets.

  • Josh Gustad

    I wouldn’t take a pay cut to play for the Browns either. You can’t make the assumption that just because he wouldn’t take a pay cut that he wouldn’t sign with a contender for less after being cut.

  • Conserv_58

    There is no reason to think that Haden is an upgrade over what the Steelers already have. Even the browns aren’t stupid enough to cut a player at the top of his game. This has buyer beware written all over it.

  • Conserv_58

    Cockrell’s ability is best suited to play in zone coverage where the play is out in front of him. He’s a liability in man coverage, because he lacks the speed to catch up to receivers that get past him.

  • Conserv_58

    They trade them to collect more draft picks.

  • Conserv_58

    He’s jusy a guy with zero upside too.

  • srdan

    I see what you’re getting at, but it comes down to money. He is being paid top 10 at his position but he isn’t that. This however doesn’t mean that he woudn’t be an upgrade on our roster.

  • Conserv_58

    It still has buyer beware written all over it. I don’t want to see the Steelers bring a guy in based on past experience. Why would the browns cut him if he was still playing at a high level?

  • stan

    He wasn’t exactly cut though. The Browns wanted to keep him at a lower salary. His performance has definitely declined but that sometimes happens with players on bad teams even if the player is still capable. I would also note that the decline happened when he signed his huge extension, so motivation is probably an issue. Maybe playing on a SB contender on a shorter, cheaper, deal will spark his enthusiasm.

  • Steeler-Drew

    Totally agree.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I hear ya…no offense taken :)!

    Probably better…Well, even with his experience, Hilton is about to run him out of the slot so we can remove “probably” from him…Sutton imo is a better talent right now and will soon be a better player…Sensabaugh was getting 1st team reps outside so he’s at least equal to Gay, but they see him as more versatile.

    Game? If they trotted out Burns, Gay and Cockrell all season I’m thinking over the course of the year Gay would get thrown at more and would yield more completions than either of the other two. JMHO.

    That said…I like Gay and would want his presence in the locker room. Word is Mitchell is sort of the unspoken leader of the DBs, but I would want a CB on the roster with experience.

    Ideally, I would look to keep 8 DBs and maybe go with 3 TEs or 3 RBs.

  • srdan

    THey wouldn’t, and I’m not arguing that he is playing at a high level. What I’m arguing is that whatever level he is at, he would be an upgrade in the CB room. And I agree, with the issues we had signing recently, we should proceed with caution.

  • ATL96STEELER

    With 6 I’d like to see the rest of your head count.

    TE…4…McDonald is probably the best 2 way player so he’s a lock with JJ being the next lock…with McDonald known to be a good blocker, is there a need for DJ?

  • TroymanianDevil

    that was a handful to read haha

  • D.j. Reynolds

    This is why it shouldn’t be him.

    Sensabaugh’s reasoning above is solid too, and if Haden is signed, then Sensabaugh moves to slot.

    I think it is either Gay or Hilton! Gay saves more money I think.

  • Jaybird

    Imagine if we cut Gay AND Cockrell, and went with HIlton and pick up Haden instead. I know, not very likely.

  • Mr jack

    Hilton has made the team,It would be Gay

  • Darth Blount 47

    I have no clue. But the suspense is terrible. I hope it’ll last.

  • D.j. Reynolds

    That is my thought too

  • Michael Mosgrove

    ill take dj over jj all day.

  • george

    Yeah that would be the shortest strategy session ever 🙂

  • Limousine Liberal

    I’ve watched Will Gay trot into the end zone behind a scoring receiver enough times in my life. Veteran leadership blah blah — you are the weakest link…Goodbye!

  • Limousine Liberal

    You can’t get rid of Cockrell — if Burns or Hagen went down he’d be (unfortunately) the best outside option to back up.

  • Limousine Liberal

    Classic.

  • Tristana

    i think he is good at right tackle, and horrible at guard. but whatever.

  • Dorian James

    DHB may not even make the team.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Because Golden is awful and Gay is an encyclopedia on the Steelers D. I think he could most easily make the transition. Also, the CB depth is getting very deep.

  • BlkNGld

    Lol

  • Joseph Shaw

    I think this scenario is very much in play.

  • Jaybird

    well they got Haden, Can they actually cut Gay and cockrell?!!!

  • Big Joe

    Hilton

  • Romel Roze

    I like your logic. Good point!

  • Romel Roze

    Lmao

  • Roberto Vaquero Bazán

    Neither that LB that scored a lot of TDs on offense, I just can’t remember his name!

  • Doug McFee

    Cockrell will get the boot.

  • Redmond Barry

    I’m honestly hoping Gay gets the boot. As one-dimensional and in the doghouse as he is, Cockrell is still arguably the team’s third best CB and the best option to play outside if Burns or Haden (specially Haden!) gets hurt. Gay is an old slot player trending downward.