Artie Burns might be well on his way out of Pittsburgh but at least one man thinks the front office can squeeze some value out of him. In Bill Barnwell’s to-do list for the NFC, he pens the Philadelphia Eagles should give Kevin Colbert a ring for the former first round cornerback.
In his ESPN column, Barnwell writes:
“The Steelers have one of those in the former first-round pick Burns, who took a massive downturn in his third season and was benched for the second half of 2018. Pittsburgh declined Burns’ fifth-year option and replaced him with Nelson, so he’s not long for the roster. The Eagles, on the other hand, might very well want to take a flier on a player who looked like a starting-caliber cornerback in 2017.”
He notes VP Howie Roseman loves taking chances on athletic corners with some upside though right now, it’s hard to be excited about Burns’ future. Barnwell saying Burns looked like a starter in 2017 is a stretch but he’s right in saying best play came in those two seasons before things came crashing down last season. He was sent to the bench for Coty Sensabaugh, a man still searching for a new team after the Steelers failed to re-sign him.
Burns figures to enter camp as the #6 CB behind Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton, Justin Layne, and Cam Sutton. It’s not even a guarantee Burns attends Latrobe. He’s due an $800K roster bonus on the third day of practice. That’s not a lot of money but given how shaky his roster spot is, the team may not want to pay such an admission fee for someone, at best, will have to scratch and claw his way onto the 53.
If the Steelers can get anything for him, they’d be smart to do it. I find those odds unlikely, he’s damaged goods and everyone knows it, but considering Pittsburgh sent a 6th round pick to Cleveland for Justin Gilbert, another struggling cornerback with work ethic concerns, anything is possible. Especially as teams get into camp and depth becomes tested by injury.
As we noted last year, Kevin Colbert is among the league’s most active GMs when it comes to making preseason trades. Since 2010, he’s completed ten of them, shipping out names like Sammie Coates, Ross Cockrell, and Brad Wing for late-round picks. Should the team trade a 2020 pick to round out depth somewhere, tight end and safety are the most likely areas, they probably would want to get a pick back by dealing a player to another team.
Burns, if anyone wants him, figures to be on that list. Jerald Hawkins and Eli Rogers are two other players who, on paper, also make sense if they’re unable to lock down a spot on the 53 man roster.