The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t always been significant players in the free agent market, but that has begun to change in recent years. While they may never be at the top of the market outside of signing their own—they did after all just make Antonio Brown the highest-paid at his position, and Le’Veon Bell’s franchise tag gives him the same distinction—but they haven’t been afraid to make significant additions in free agency.
This offseason, they are looking to make that addition to their team through the cornerback free agency market. There were significant reports leading into the start of the free agency period that they would actually be sniffing around the top of the market, and reportedly pursued Dre Kirkpatrick and Logan Ryan, both of whom signed for $10 million or more per season.
Their next course of action is to take a look at Davon House, who himself was a big free agency signing by the Jaguars in 2015. The former fourth-round draft pick spent his first four years with the Packers without becoming a consistent starter, recording an interception in each of his two final seasons.
After signing a four-year deal worth over $24 million with the Jaguars in 2015, he went on to record four interceptions and a franchise-record 23 pass deflections that season, recording 60 tackles and a forced fumble as well.
But he was benched after the first four games of the 2016 season, and House wasn’t happy about it. He remained mostly silent throughout the season, but expressed his thoughts at the end of the year on what happened—keeping in mind that this came long before he was released.
“The situation this year”, he said, if you ask me, was not football-related”, according to Jacksonville.com. “There is no reason why I shouldn’t have been on the field. But with a new coach coming in, he’s going to see what I can do, he’s going to see what I did last year and they’re going to like what they see”.
The statisticians would tend to disagree with House’s assertion that his demotion was not football-related. According to the same article, he allowed 15 completions on 17 targets for 186 yards and three touchdowns over the course of the first four games, though those came against Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, and Andrew Luck.
Given the investment that they placed in him, it would seem a bit surprising that he would be benched, but he fell out of favor to fourth on the depth chart behind rookie first-rounder Jalen Ramsey, former Giants first-round pick Prince Amukamara, and Aaron Colvin, the Jaguars’ fourth-round pick in 2014.
House is a six-foot cornerback with press-man capabilities and decent size. That sort of fits the profile for what the Steelers seem to be looking for right now, and they would be much more willing to find that during the second wave of free agents. The fact that he is a street free agent and thus would not go toward the compensatory pick formula does not hurt, either.