On Tuesday afternoon, word spread around the SteelerNation’s Twittersphere that Keenan Lewis was apparently headed for the free agent market. Hopes of getting the high priority free agent back in Pittsburgh immediately came into question more than before, but Lewis cleared the air later Tuesday evening.
It started with Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review tweeting out that Steelers free agent Cornerback Keenan Lewis wants to test the free agent market, and is apparently looking for the big pay day he thinks he’ll get from another team: “Alan Robinson@arobinson_Trib : Keenan Lewis plans to test free agency. He told #Steelers “they made a mistake” by not offering multi-year deal before 2012 season.”
After Steelers fans across the social media world starting started whipping into a frenzy, Lewis clarified the misquote by Robinson and set the record straight:
“I was misquoted by a reporter saying it was a mistake not to give me a contract last year. Try to make my image look bad, but here Wat it is, I’m not money greedy, I had my exit meeting today and it went great. I know we in the right direction as far as a contract, I believe strongly I would be apart of Steeler Nation next season. To do a three peat as the number one pass defense period. Here we go”
Lewis has been a very humble player throughout his young career from what I’ve seen. When approached by the media he is usually quick to give credit to his teammates and coaches, and often interacts with his fans on Facebook and Twitter. It seemed odd that Lewis would make such a bold statement in the first place, but hey free agency can do that to people; it brings out the crazy all too often. I admit I started questioning his tactics when I read the report too.
Let’s be fair, every NFL player has an ego, I don’t care who it is but fortunately Lewis seems to have a good head on his shoulders. They want to get their share of the wealth, and rightfully so. The average length of an NFL career isn’t exactly that of your average 9-5 office type job. He’s well within his rights to seek out all the money he can, and knowing how the NFL works there will always be someone willing to overpay a player. The Steelers would be wise to lock him up as soon as possible though just to be safe.
Lewis finished 2012 with 71 tackles, 23 passes defensed, and 1 forced fumble. Like the rest of the Steelers Defensive Backs though, there seems to be this continuous issue with coming down with the ball when given the chance. Hopefully with more work under Carnell Lake, the good cover corners for 2013 will also become more ball hawks.
From the Steelers front office point of view, nobody should blame Kevin Colbert for not giving a big, fat contract to Lewis until they saw what he was going to do in 2012. If you look at his career stats, he played mostly NB in 2011 and registered 37 tackles, 6 passes defensed, and 1 interception. Before that, in 2009 and 2010, he played in a combined 13 games and had 12 total tackles. Clearly 2012 was his best year and hopefully that trend continues. Omar Khan and Colbert are more than willing to pay out fair money for a player they feel is worth it, and after this past season Lewis has shown he’s capable of holding up his end of a bargain.
I personally think, like most others, that Lewis is a must have free agent keep for the Steelers, his growth into a solid overall cover corner will be extremely valuable to the future of the Steeler defense.