As the 2015 season is now in the rearview mirror for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2016. On March 9th, all 2015 contracts set to expire will do so making those players free agents.
Today I’m looking at the Steelers’ free agents in the secondary and what better place to start considering it was easily the most maligned group of 2015.
CB William Gay (Unrestricted Free Agent) – At 31 years of age, Gay cannot expect a significant monetary offer from anyone but that doesn’t mean he won’t ask for one. Last year, Green Bay’s Tramon Williams went on the market at 31 as well. He eventually signed with the Browns at three years and $21 million. This could be a number similar to what Gay wants however, Williams has 29 career interceptions while Gay has just 11. Certainly the familiarity with the Steelers and vice-versa is a major factor so it’s possible a hometown discount could be coming.
Prediction: I believe Gay, who once tested the waters in Arizona, will return for a fair price.
S Rob Golden (Unrestricted Free Agent) – At 25 years old, Golden needs a long look by the Steelers. I thought he played well when pressed into action following Will Allen’s bum ankle. He’s also a demon of a special teamer as well and for a team that is very average in that category his presence may be necessary. I think he fits a solid reserve roll and is someone the team can depend on.
Prediction: Golden will return.
CB Antwon Blake (Unrestricted Free Agent) – The scourge of many in the Steelers’ Nation this year, Blake was often the target of opposing quarterbacks who would pick on him relentlessly. I think at this point we’ve seen everything that Blake can do and there isn’t much more he can do. While he did provide the team with several big plays, Blake just is not a starting NFL corner in my opinion. His tackling really isn’t tackling because it’s more like ‘hitting’ and his coverage skills leave much to be desired especially when it comes to reacting to the ball.
Prediction: I believe Blake will be back because of the high number of secondary free agents but in a reserve role only.
CB Brandon Boykin (Unrestricted Free Agent) – I wish I could tell you why the Steelers waited so long to play Boykin but I can’t. He ended up just playing in about 25% of the team’s regular season defensive snaps which means the Steelers will send Philly a fifth round pick instead of a fourth. The pass defense was better with Boykin in there and I’d like to see him return but will he?
Prediction: Boykin will take his talents elsewhere. He can’t risk signing a deal only to sit the pine again in Pittsburgh.
S Will Allen (Unrestricted Free Agent) – I wasn’t crazy about the Steelers bringing him back for 2015 at his age but he was impressive at times I must admit. That said, they must get younger and faster at strong safety.
Prediction: Allen could re-sign for vet minimum but I think he moves on.
CB Ross Cockrell (Exclusive Rights Free Agent) – The fact that Cockrell is an ERFA makes it easier for the Steelers to keep him. He has good size and better ball skills than Blake although he isn’t as aggressive against the run. I like his ranginess and smarts and I think the Steelers do as well.
Prediction: Look for him to return for 2016.
CB Cortez Allen (Currently Under Contract) – If you heard Mike Tomlin yesterday, he was less than confident about Allen. A post-June 1st cut means a cap savings of $4.4 million and with his knee reportedly being a chronic injury, that sounds likely.
Prediction: Allen will be cut following June 1st.
Photo courtesy si.com