Like many Steelers fans, I was pretty excited when I heard over the weekend that they made a move to grab one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL in Brandon Boykin, for a conditional 5th round pick.
Not only is Boykin talented, but he’s only 25 years old and likely just entering his prime playing years.
Initially I thought, home-run. Of course the Steelers would give up a pick in the 4th or 5th round for a guy that instantly may be the most talented cornerback on the roster.
However, the fact that Boykin is in the final year of his rookie contract does give me some pause, and make me wonder what the Steelers’ plan is long term. Using something like a 4th or 5th rounder for a one year rental? Probably still worth it, but maybe not the steal that I originally thought it was.
The most cost effective move would be to see if Boykin would sign an extension right now. That seems unlikely though. The Steelers will probably want to see how Boykin fares in their system before making a long-term commitment… and Boykin will probably want to play out his contract year to possibly cash in on the open market.
Looking at the numbers, Denver Bronco’s cornerback Chris Harris Jr. was the only cornerback to hold Quarterbacks to a lower passer rating, while playing primarily in the slot over the past 2 season.
Harris Jr. signed a 5 year, 42.5 million dollar extension this off-season. One difference between the two is that Harris has proven he can also move outside and handle larger receivers.
Boykin was pretty vocal in Philadelphia about his frustration in not being a starter (though I would argue a #3 CB in today’s NFL is a starter), and also with the fact that the Eagles didn’t use him on the outside.
It appears early in camp that the Steelers will grant the new cornerback’s wishes, and give him every opportunity to win a starting spot, playing on the outside.
If he does prove that he can be as effective covering top receivers as well as he plays the slot, then I think he may very well price himself out of the Steelers’ budget.
Who knows though. If the Steelers lock up Kelvin Beachum this off-season, I don’t necessarily any other free agents in 2016 that are “must-sign” types of guys. Ramon Foster, William Gay, and Steve McLendon would be the toughest cuts, and David DeCastro will likely get a nice payday then.
I’ll admit that I’m not the most knowledgeable when it comes to contracts, but maybe the Steelers could sign him with cap savings from cutting Cortez Allen if he continues to struggle in 2015.
There’s a lot of different variables that go into a decision with his contract after this season, but hopefully Boykins’ play in 2015 forces the Steelers into a tough decision.