As we enter the first weekend of the 2015 NFL league year, the Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to sign an outside unrestricted free agent. That’s not too surprising, however, and it could change later Friday as former Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams is expected to be in town for a visit.
In addition to the Steelers being expected to address the running back position during free agency, one would think that they will also be looking to sign a free agent cornerback after losing Brice McCain to the Miami Dolphins a few days ago. However, much like the outside linebacker free agent market, the list of available and serviceable cornerbacks is now getting very thin. Here is a look at the best still available entering Friday.
Tramon Williams – While Williams has visited with the New Orleans Saints, it looks like that potential landing spot has dried up now that they’ve signed Brandon Browner. The Green Bay Packers are also looking to re-sign Williams and one would think that the New England Patriots might be watching his status closely as well. Keep in mind that Williams will turn 32 in a few more days and that the Steelers haven’t signed a free agent defensive player that is 30 years or older and had never played for the organization before since 2001.
Perrish Cox – Cox has quite a few teams interested in him and one would think that he’s looking to land with one willing to give him a chance to start. He recorded 15 defensed passes and five interceptions in 2014 with the San Francisco 49ers and I’m willing to bet he’s out of the Steelers price range. He will more than likely have a new home by Monday and I won’t be surprised if it is in New England.
Chris Culiver – While Culiver is only 27, he does have a few character concerns and that in itself may scare the Steelers off. Last season with the 49ers the South Carolina product was credited with 14 passes defensed to go along with his four interceptions. He’s already visited with the Washington Redskins and like Williams and Cox, the Patriots are likely paying close attention to his itinerary.
Patrick Robinson – It has already been reported that the Steelers have interest in Robinson, but they’re not alone. Robinson would be a logical fit and his price tag should be quite affordable. We’ll have to wait and see if a visit gets scheduled with him in the coming days. He’s a former first round draft pick that has never lived up his billing.
Bradley Fletcher – Fletcher had a horrible 2014 season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Much like McCain, however, he could be due for a bounce back season in 2015 as I thought he played much better in 2012 and 2013. One would think that he will be looking for a one or two year deal to prove himself. Fletcher will turn 29 in June.
Sterling Moore – Moore had a very nice 2014 season with the Dallas Cowboys but because of his size, he’s pretty much limited to playing in the slot. He’s only started 10 games in his career and seven of those came last season with the Cowboys. Moore has visited with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and one would think that a few more visits will be forthcoming.
Alan Ball – Ball had most of his 2014 season wiped out by a biceps injury. He will turn 30 in late March but did have a productive 2013 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is a solid special teams player and that could make him very appealing to the Steelers. He can probably be had for the league minimum as well, so keep his name in the back of your mind.
Chris Cook – Cook had his 2014 season cut way short because of a hamstring injury. He’s also not a playmaker as he’s still looking for his first career interception. While he has good size and isn’t afraid to hit, he’s definitely not a player you would want to have start regularly. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin probably knows quite a bit about Cook being as he hails from the Virginia area.
Brandon Harris – Harris is yet another cornerback that is undersized that was overrated coming out of college. He really doesn’t have much upside.
Kyle Wilson – I’m not a big fan of Wilson, but maybe the Steelers are. The former first round draft pick of the New York Jets really has had a disappointing career and he’s likely going to be out of work for a while. At best, Wilson would be a backup nickel cornerback with the Steelers.
Javier Arenas – If the Steelers are looking for a cornerback that can also serve as a returner, Arenas would fit that bill. Like Moore Harris and Wilson, Arenas lacks size. In addition to that, he’s only played a total of 161 snaps on defense over the course of the last two seasons. Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley should know all about Arenas being as he was the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs when they drafted the Alabama product in the second round.
Chris Owens – Remember Owens? The Steelers brought him in for a free agent visit last offseason. He’s yet another cornerback that best suited playing the slot. Being as how Owens isn’t a starter-quality player, he shouldn’t expect anything more than the minimum this year.