Pittsburgh Steelers fans haven’t exactly had the opportunity to grow to love him yet, but as far as Pro Football Focus is concerned, new strong safety Morgan Burnett is one of the best values the position in the league.
In a list published yesterday, Burnett’s contract that he signed with the Steelers back in May was listed as the third-best (from the team’s perspective) among safeties in the NFL. In other words, Burnett offers the Steelers some of the best bang for your buck that you are going to find at the back end of the defense.
“Burnett was a solid pickup for Pittsburgh, with just 30.0 percent of his contract being guaranteed”, his entry reads. “He missed some time due to injury last year, and it seemed to impact his performance, with the former Green Bay Packers safety producing his lowest PFF grade (68.3) since 2013”.
But it went on to say that “Burnett is a sure tackler who can make an impact close to the line of scrimmage. He has racked up 128 tackles resulting in a defensive stop over the past four seasons, and he missed nine or fewer tackles every year in that span. His PFF run-defense grade has been 70.0 or higher since 2014, so expect him to make an impact at strong safety for the Steelers”.
Burnett has already missed some time, and some tackles, during his spring and summer stint so far in Pittsburgh, so perhaps the welcome wagon has been sitting in neutral waiting for him to do something that the fan base can really get behind. But after the play at the safety position last year, I think they are ready to embrace somebody who knows what he’s doing.
Baltimore Ravens safety Eric Weddle was ranked second on the list, with Jeff Heath of the Dallas Cowboys on top. Glover Quinn for the Detroit Lions and Patrick Chung for the New England Patriots rounded out the list of the top five contracts at the safety position based on production versus dollar value.
What does any of this mean? Nothing, really. All it means is that they expect Burnett to perform at a level that is worth at least what he is being paid, if not better. It’s not going to change how he actually performs, of course.
But especially when we are talking about a player that is new to the team and that we really haven’t seen much of yet, it is helpful and even interesting to get a bit of an outsider’s perspective. I think people are still waiting for Burnett to do something really notable, but I fully expect him to deliver consistently solid play.