Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Coty Sensabaugh opened his seventh season in the NFL serving as a healthy scratch. He ended it as a full-time starter. Often viewed as an afterthought and even a possible roster cut, the veteran played an important role in the secondary during the 2018 season when the team needed to make a change in search of greater stability.
Originally a fourth-round pick by the Tennessee Titans, Sensabaugh served in a variety of roles there, including as a nickel defender and as a full-time starter. He signed a strong second contract with the Rams in 2016 only to be released in the middle of the first season of his deal, later signing with the New York Giants, where he earned a nickel role as the season progressed.
He came to the Steelers as a free agent in 2017, signing a two-year deal during which he was expected to serve as valuable depth, essentially replacing William Gay as a player that you could ask to fill in at any spot.
Over his two years in Pittsburgh, he actually has played all over the place as a cornerback, starting games on both the left and right side and seeing some playing time in the slot as well. He served most of this season as the starting right outside cornerback after the team benched Artie Burns.
“I definitely think it was a step in the right direction”, Sensabuagh told Jacob Klinger regarding his time with the Steelers and finding playing time again in his second year in Pittsburgh. “I would like to be back here. I think we have some unfinished business”.
Cornerback remains a key area of concern for the team, where they seem to believe that Joe Haden, entering the final year of his contract in his 10th season, is the only stable and consistent piece. They even toyed with sitting Mike Hilton this year in favor of 2017 third-round pick Cameron Sutton.
Obviously the team will have to continue to make upgrades, perhaps both in free agency and the draft, but at a low price, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to bring back Sensabaugh. He was far from a Pro Bowler, but he generally offered solid play.
According to Pro Football Focus, in fact, he ranked sixth in the NFL at the cornerback position in terms of snaps in coverage per reception allowed. He only gave up a reception once every 17 coverage snaps, and in fact he ranked second in yards per coverage snap, allowing just .64 yards per. That was only slightly worse than Patrick Peterson’s .63 yards per coverage snap.
Now those numbers are not going to give you the full context of his performance, but he wasn’t a huge liability, either. In reality, the Steelers’ biggest issues in the passing game didn’t come from the cornerbacks but rather the linebackers and safeties.