Brandon Boykin would have completely changed the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense if only the coaching staff were not forced by the front office to keep him off the field for so long during the 2015 NFL season so that his playing time did not trigger a condition in the team’s trade for him that would forced them to send the Philadelphia Eagles a fourth-round pick instead of a fifth.
That’s a joke. Just in case. But anyway.
Boykin recently participated in an interview for the league’s website, and he talked about a number of topics, quite a bit actually centered around his one season in Pittsburgh, even though the bulk of his meaningful playing career came in Philadelphia.
On playing in the Steelers’ defense, and going up against the offense with the likes of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and running back Le’Veon Bell, Boykin said that “it’s high-intensity every single day”.
Talking about the difficulty of playing against some of the best skill position players in the entire league and doing so on a daily basis, the cornerback said that “you have no choice but to elevate your game and make yourself more confident”.
He also was very complimentary of Brown, describing him as a litmus test. “That year in Pittsburgh allowed me to see where I was as a player, going against Antonio every single day”. It might be worth noting that no defensive back from that 2015 53-man roster is still with the team today.
Lacking cornerback depth, the Steelers traded for him in 2015, but they were slow to get him on the field. Even Ross Cockrell ended up playing ahead of him, but Boykin eventually became the team’s primary slot defender by the end of the year.
He was not re-signed, joining the Carolina Panthers in 2016, only to be released after the draft that year. He signed with the Chicago Bears but suffered a pectoral injury and spent the season on injured reserve. After signing with the Baltimore Ravens last year, he once again landed on the injured reserve list before the season started.
Technically a seventh-year player, Boykin is looking for a job as teams open their training camp, but he has kept active in the meantime, starting up a trucking business and participating in the American Flag Football League with some other former Steelers such as Dennis Dixon, Jerrod Johnson, and Michael Vick.
Following two straight years of injuries and not even playing a big role in the season before, it would be hard to imagine there being a lot of opportunities out there to be had for him. Former Steeles defensive backs coach Carnell Lake even semi-privately said that he had difficulty running.