The Pittsburgh Steelers did what many saw coming on Friday when they released cornerback Cortez Allen. A fourth round pick out of The Citadel, Allen was thought to be a secondary contributor and special teams’ ace when he joined the Steelers.
Because he flashed the ability to fit what Dick LeBeau wanted with his cornerbacks (tackle the catch), he worked his way into a starting role. Allen would later become the benefactor of an earlier front office mistake when he was given a four-year, $24 million dollar extension.
I say “benefactor” because when the Steelers allowed Keenan Lewis to walk, the fans and even Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin knew it was not going to go over well and it didn’t. Enter Allen who had shown enough apparently to warrant the new deal.
To be fair to both Colbert and Tomlin, they probably couldn’t have forseen the knee problems that would plague Allen. I’ve been told for two years that his knee was not something that could be made better with surgery. It was chronic knee issue that Allen just couldn’t shake. Allen disputed that when he was put on Injured Reserve early in 2015 but from everything we’ve gathered it was legitimate.
The Steelers of course wouldn’t be the first team to make an injury out to be much worse than it actually was in an effort to get a guy off of their active roster. Injury aside, Allen’s play had deteriorated to a very low level. His ball skills, which were never really good to begin with, were worse.
There were times in coverage where Allen would be in position but when going for the ball would look like a child swatting at mosquitos. Then came the even bigger problem; suddenly, Allen couldn’t tackle and that’s a sin in any defense let alone the Steelers’ D.
I’m guessing that Allen will go through some medical checks for a few teams and whether they sign him I can’t say with any certainty. He’s a big corner with some ability but honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he doesn’t play in the League going forward. Allen’s signing was done out of panic and while Colbert and Tomlin won’t ever admit it, it’s easy to see why they did.
In the end, some rolls of the dice just don’t work out and with Allen, their gamble never really had a chance.