As expected, the New Orleans Saints officially parted ways with veteran cornerback Keenan Lewis on Monday and now the 30-year-old former draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers is looking for a new team.
According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers would entertain having Lewis back in Pittsburgh, but they’re apparently currently concerned about his recent hip problem. This isn’t overly surprising and I noted this very thing in my post concerning Lewis’ forthcoming release.
Lewis, who was activated from the Saints PUP list on August 3, reportedly failed to practice following that transaction due to a hip and abductor strain. Recently, Lewis talked about his injury and what ultimately led to his release from the Saints.
“I strained a muscle in training camp,” Lewis told Josina Anderson of ESPN. “Only thing I asked from coach [Sean] Payton is, and the organization is, give me an opportunity to play at 100 percent. Not even 100 percent, let me play at 90-95 percent healthy, so that I can show people I’m on the same level with those people being mentioned. Like there are some days I never slept in the summer and days I went without sleep because I was worried about getting better. That’s the only thing I want to do is help my team win and showcase my talent, my hard work and my grind on getting better.
“So when I did that, we had problems because they wanted to rush me out there and play like at 50-60 percent. I did that (before). I played with two labrums. I had to get both of my labrum repaired in December. So I had to get that fixed. Also, I played with a knee the size of a bowling ball for y’all, so I think it was only fair that they give me the opportunity to get healthy. Like I know preseason is very important, but I am trying to be ready for when it counts. Unfortunately, they didn’t want to wait the two weeks that I need to get myself all the way ready. It’s cool. Now I will go and help (another) team. I’ll just wait until my number gets called.”
By the sound of things, Lewis thinks he’ll need a few more weeks of rehab before he’ll be ready to play. In other words, it will likely be after the start of the regular season.
Should the Steelers ultimately decide they want Lewis back in the fold, and assuming he can pass a physical, one would think they would only sign the cornerback if he were willing to play for a lot less than he was scheduled to earn this season with the Saints. Prior to his Monday release, Lewis had two years remaining on his contract with the Saints and was scheduled to earn a base salary of $2.7 million in 2016 and $4.75 million in 2017 in addition to another $750,00 in workout and roster bonuses.
Lewis’ 2016 base salary of $2.7 million he was scheduled to earn was fully guaranteed, so he can double-dip.
Lewis was drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Oregon State. He signed with the Saints as an unrestricted free agent in 2013 as it gave him an opportunity to play near where he was born and raised. He only played in 6 games last season for the Saints.