The 2018 season wasn’t a memorable one for Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns as the team’s former first-round draft pock out of Miami went from Week 1 starter to only playing on special teams by Week 8. That benching needed to be done, however, as Burns’ penchant for giving up big plays or committing defensive penalties couldn’t be tolerated any longer. During his Monday media session at the annual league meetings in Phoenix, Arizona, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin set the record straight when Burns’ play last season was referenced as being a “little disappointing” during a question.
“Not a little bit disappointed – disappointed, certainly,” Tomlin said, according to Teresa Varley of steelers.com. “Having the ability to carry those talents into a stadium kind of defines us, or inability the do so, so certainly.”
Burns’ extremely poor play last season, when combined with his inconsistent play from his first two seasons in the NFL, essentially forced the Steelers to address the cornerback position this offseason in free agency. They did just that by signing Steven Nelson, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs, and he’ll now be expected to start on the right side and opposite veteran cornerback Joe Haden in 2019.
As for Burns’ immediate future with the Steelers, it’s obvious that the team won’t pick up his available fifth-year option by this year’s deadline. Not only that, but Burns is more than likely going to enter training camp this year needing to win a spot on the team’s 53-man roster. That, of course, assumes Burns even makes it to training camp as he’s due an $800,000 roster bonus on the third day of it. According to Tomlin on Monday, it sounds like Burns will get one last chance in Latrobe to prove his mettle just because that’s part of the offseason process.
“You know, that’s what this process is about. It’s not about giving him another chance, it’s about putting together the very best group that we can put out there,” Tomlin said. “And if that includes giving him another chance, then certainly, but it’s not per se specifically about giving him quote-unquote another chance.”
In his first three seasons in the NFL, Burns, who will turn 24 on May 1, has registered 141 total tackles, 27 defensed passes and 4 interceptions. He’s also been flagged a total of 33 times during regular season games since being drafted with 11 of those flags being for defensive pass interference.