The Pittsburgh Steelers surprised us Saturday by making a trade that included them acquiring cornerback Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2016 Draft.
Unfortunately, this trade probably signals that the shoulder injury that rookie cornerback Senquez Golson has been dealing with will keep him sidelined for an extended amount of time and perhaps even for the season.
Regardless of Golson’s situation, you have to applaud general manager Kevin Colbert for making this move even though Boykin will be a free agent at the conclusion of the season.
Prior to making the trade Saturday, the Steelers had a lot of question marks in their secondary. For starters, Cortez Allen is coming off a dismal 2014 season and has yet to prove that he can be a dependable cornerback on a week to week basis. On top of that, while he has had his moments, cornerback Antwon Blake has also shown that he has a ways to go in his development.
Behind William Gay, Allen and Blake are third-year cornerback B.J. Webb, Golson and fourth-round draft pick Doran Grant. In other words, the Steelers really could use another experienced cornerback and that’s exactly what Boykin is. He’s already played over 1,700 snaps.
Over the course of the last two seasons, Boykin has primarily played in the slot for the Eagles. During that span, the Georgia product has allowed 94 catches on 155 targets (60.6%) and just three touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus. I should also note that he had seven interceptions and 19 pass breakups during that span of two seasons.
Boykin has stated that he would like to play outside so it will be interesting to see if the Steelers grant him that wish. Being as he’s not even 5-10, he might be best-suited staying inside. At the very least, he can move outside in case of injury or poor play.
Boykin hasn’t missed a game in his first three years in the league, so that’s also a plus. He’s not known as a big-time special teams player, however, so we’ll have to wait and see if gets any work as a gunner.
Assuming Golson won’t be ready for the start of the season, Boykin will at worst be the team’s third or fourth cornerback come Week 1 of the season. Depending on how Allen and Blake do during the preseason, he could very well wind up being a starter in the regular-season opener against the New England Patriots.
This was essentially a move that the Steelers had to make and when you consider that they didn’t have to give up very much for Boykin, it’s an excellent one. Also, it’s important to remember that Boykin is in a contract year so he has all the incentive in the world to play well and stay on the field.
“This year, I guarantee will be even better,” Boykin said in June, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer. “I feel way better than I did last year. I was battling a hamstring from like the second game all the way throughout the season. . . . This offseason, did yoga, did a lot of stuff just to get my body right and I feel like I did in 2013.”