The off season has come early for the Pittsburgh Steelers, giving the upper brass a head start on player evaluations as free agency and the NFL Draft slowly approach. First on the Steelers’ agenda will be determining which of their own players with expiring contracts they will let test free agency, with one of those players being veteran cornerback Coty Sensabaugh.
Sensabaugh is not the flashiest or most electrifying player in the National Football League. He’s far from it as his three career interceptions in seven seasons would suggest. What Sensabaugh is though, is a highly consistent player and he proved exactly that this season for the Steelers. After the benching of Artie Burns, Sensabaugh’s name was penciled in as the starting corner opposite of Joe Haden and he performed fairly well.
Think of all the defensive backs that have faced scrutiny this season for their play. Burns, Morgan Burnett, Terrell Edmunds, Sean Davis, Mike Hilton, the list goes on and on but Sensabaugh’s name has been absent for the most part. In fact, PFF has actually mentioned the veteran cornerback’s name among other top corners for being among the league leaders in snaps per reception.
That is some incredible company to be in but a reasonable argument could be made on how much of that statistic has to do with teams frequently targeting the Steelers over the middle rather than the outside. Though a quick glance at the Steelers’ 16-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals shows that even when targeted, a reception is not easy to come by when Sensabaugh is breathing down your neck.
Coty breaks quickly on Bengals’ receiver Auden Tate’s route and is able to dislodge the ball from his hands. While Tate is far from being a polished route runner, he is 6’5 but yet Sensabaugh, who is just 5’11, meets him at his highest point and is able to come up with a pass breakup.
Tate felt the pressure of the seven-year corner once again as he comes crashing down to force another pass breakup. Despite being 30-years old himself, Sensabaugh is still rather quick on his feet and always puts himself in a good position to make a play on the football.
While he finished the year without any interceptions, Sensabaugh did record six pass break ups. In a ‘what have you done for me recently?’ sport, the Steelers’ cornerback made sure to save his best play for the closing weeks as he recorded four pass breakups over the last two weeks. Last Sunday, he showed he could go toe to toe with a lengthy and tall receiver like Tate and the week prior, he did a fairly decent job at neutralizing the speed of Saints’ receiver Ted Ginn.
The veteran cornerback is finishing up a two-year, $2.6 million contract and is due to be an unrestricted free agent in March. While the Steelers will likely look to improve at the cornerback position, Sensabaugh could return and provide valuable depth. His return would not seem to be too complicated as he has already made it clear he wants to be back according to Penn Live. After the Artie Burns experiment went off the rails, Sensabaugh brought a sense of consistency, a value that you can never have too much of.