Now this is a piece that I think many will be interested in. Over the years of covering the Pittsburgh Steelers on this site, I have found that some of our most engaged-with articles are about the fringe contributors, rather than the stars. And we have at least some semblance of news about one of those fringe players.
Recently, Gerry Dulac for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Steelers are ‘likely to release veteran safety Mike Mitchell. They are even more likely to release J.J. Wilcox, the safety that they acquired via trade late in the offseason.
If they do indeed part with both safeties, then they will be left with just Sean Davis and Robert Golden from the 53-man roster, as well as Jordan Dangerfield from the practice squad, and 2017 offseason roster member Malik Golden.
This is not exactly a murderer’s row at the back end, which they are looking to improve. You can readily anticipate that they will be pursuing safeties both in free agency and in the draft. But if they don’t find everything that they are looking for, Dulac reports that they may have an in-house option.
Alex Kozora wrote previously that the best chance for William Gay to make the 53-man roster in 2018 is if he makes a full-time conversion to safety. But another candidate to be moved to safety is second-year cornerback Brian Allen.
Allen, a 2017 fifth-round draft pick, is 6’3” and 215 pounds who has displayed some physical traits in the preseason and in his work on special teams. The team talked about the potential of him being able to move to safety when he was drafted.
Dulac writes that this move is “in the back of their minds”. While noting that “the Steelers believe Allen is better-suited at cornerback and intend to keep him there”, he added that “that could change based on which players they draft or sign in free agency”.
After all, it is fair to point out that the cornerback position is already fairly crowded. With Artie Burns and Joe Haden in place as their outside starters and the emergence of Mike Hilton in the slot, they are already looking for an opportunity to get Cameron Sutton, their third-round pick from a year ago, on the field. And they seem likely to cut ties with at least one of Gay and Coty Sensabaugh.
It is but a small bit of information, but it is interesting to consider, especially in the event that the situation unfolds as Dulac reports, with the Steelers parting with both Mitchell and Wilcox, which will open up a significant hole at the safety position they will have to fill.
Whenever Allen is brought up, it is not infrequent that one or more people mention wanting the Steelers to move him to safety. That would appear to be a possibility. Or at least more realistic than T.J. Watt being moved over the inside linebacker.