In a surprising move Saturday, the Pittsburgh Steelers placed cornerback Cortez Allen on injured reserve as the former fourth-round draft pick evidently couldn’t overcome the thumb injury that he suffered during practice prior to the Week 11 Monday night game against the Tennessee Titans. Now that the struggling cornerback has had his season ended, several in the fan base are calling for him to be released during the offseason, but I’m here to tell you that’s very unlikely to happen.
For starters, the Steelers currently only have three cornerbacks, Allen, William Gay and B.W. Webb under contract for 2015. Webb has yet to play a down on defense since he’s been with the team and besides, he’s best suited to play in the slot and not outside.
Second, if the Steelers were to part ways with Allen, they would have to do so before the 5th day of the new league as that’s when he is due his $3 million roster bonus as part of the four-year contract extension that he signed just prior to the start of the 2014 season. If cut outright before that is paid, the Steelers would only save $1.581 million in 2015 salary cap space in doing so. Sure, they could cut him and designate him as a post June 1 release, but by going that route they would create a 2016 dead money charge of $4.05 million in the process.
Allen had a miserable 2014 season, but due to the lack of depth at the cornerback position, they really have no choice but to keep him at least one more season to see if they can fix him. Remember, they would have to cut him in early March with no guarantees that they could upgrade the position in free agency or the draft.
Allen has had a few bright spots in his Steelers career and I doubt seriously the organization is ready to throw him out with the bathwater just yet. They will almost certainly address the position again in the draft at some point, but I fully expect that The Citadel product will be starting on one side when the team opens their 2015 season.