During the offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a big decision to make as to whether or not to re-sign cornerback Keenan Lewis, who was an unrestricted free agent following the 2012 season. They chose against doing so and Lewis wound up signing a five-year, $25.5 million contract with the New Orleans Saints.
Now that the news has broke that cornerback Cortez Allen needed knee surgery Friday morning that should only sideline him for a few more weeks, you are starting to hear fans mumble about the Steelers decision to not bring back Lewis.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was asked about that decision Friday morning on 970 ESPN Radio.
“Keenan had a good season for us,” said Colbert. “He had several PBU\’s (pass breakups) – he didn\’t get the interceptions he wanted, but he had a productive year and we anticipated his market going at least where it ended up going for him and we knew we couldn\’t fit that into our current structure.
“We coupled that with the anticipation of Cortez Allen being a pretty good player here for us. Unfortunately he\’s got a little bit of a knee deal that\’s slowing him down here and that makes you a little uneasy, because the guy you\’re counting on to be that starter, he might not get to earn that spot for a couple more weeks. So we got to wait and see where that\’s going top go, but that all played into making that decision.”
So how is Lewis doing with the Saints since signing with them? According to their defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, great.
“I\’m so excited about Keenan Lewis — everything about him since the day we signed him,” Ryan said this week, according to Mike Triplett of The Times-Picayune. “He\’s got so much ability. The sky is the limit for this guy. He\’s going to be fantastic for us. We\’re so excited about him. He\’s smart, he\’s tough, he\’s long. And he\’s a local hero (from O.P. Walker High School). You\’ve got to love this guy.
“In my opinion, I honestly feel we got the best free agent out there on defense.”
While we will have to wait and see if indeed Lewis was the best defensive free agent out there during the offseason, there is no denying he turned the corner last season with the Steelers. Outside of not having any interceptions, he was fairly solid against both the pass and the run. The Steelers just couldn\’t afford him based on the other needs the team had.
Now, with Allen down, the Steelers can\’t look back. Young cornerbacks Curtis Brown and Josh Victorian should benefit in practice from the extra reps and hopefully rookie Terry Hawthorne and third-year cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke can return soon from their injuries in order to fight for a spot on the 53 man roster.