Earlier today, former Pittsburgh Steelers’ cornerback Brandon Boykin signed a one year contract to play with the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers. With the stroke of his pen on the fresh new deal Boykin’s time in the Steel City was officially over.
What a short, strange trip it was…
Boykin came to the Steelers who were desperately in need of help in the secondary in an early August trade with Philadelphia. The Eagles received a fourth or fifth round draft pick. That would be based on whether Boykin played 60% of the team’s defensive snaps. You know the rest of the story right? He played in far less than the 60% needed and thus the Eagles received a fifth round pick for next month’s draft.
We will probably never know the “whole” story of why Boykin played so little but there is no shortage of stories out there claiming to know the truth.
Did he not fit the system?
Was he injured early on?
Did he have a disagreement with Mike Tomlin or another coach?
Was he struggling to learn the playbook?
Were the Steelers trying to get by so they didn’t give up the fourth rounder?
Take your pick from those or any number of others you may have heard but the bottom line is that Boykin didn’t see the field nearly as soon as he should have. That isn’t just my opinion either. Throw a dart blindly and you’ll likely hit one of the many NFL talking heads who said as much. I realize that doesn’t justify anything per se but if we at SCB and so many others could see it why couldn’t Tomlin and Keith Butler?
It’s a fair question to ask isn’t it? Or are we not allowed to question the coaches? Believe me, I’ve heard that one several times on this situation alone.
When Boykin finally started to see snaps the pass defense got better. Granted, the Steelers weren’t exactly facing top talent at quarterback down the stretch but it is what it is. As fans we can easily fall in love with certain players for any number of reasons but with Boykin, we saw results and we had already seen past success in Philadelphia. Therefore, it was mysterious and almost agitating that Boykin wasn’t playing early in the season.
The short tenure of Brandon Boykin in Pittsburgh will likely be one of the more bizarre moments of the Mike Tomlin Era. Because of how Tomlin and the Steelers’ do things I don’t think we will ever get the whole story and even if we do there will be another side as there always is.
I wish Boykin well in Carolina and will always wonder what might have been.