The Pittsburgh Steelers well underway with the offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the heart of the offseason, where hope springs eternal following a few months of pretty significant changes, in terms of both departures and arrivals.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will Artie Burns be on the 90-man roster in training camp when his roster bonus becomes due?
As we have been recently reminded, the Steelers’ 2016 first-round pick, cornerback Artie Burns, is due a roster bonus of $800,000 soon after training camp starts. Given that he figures to most likely be competing for a spot on the bottom of the roster, there are those who believe that the team will not pick up that bonus given his odds of actually making the team.
He has, so far, been on the roster throughout all of OTAs and certainly figures to be there for minicamp next week as well. One has to wonder how much more they can learn in this time that they would not already know, though, in terms of reaching a decision about whether or not to continue to hold him on the roster.
I have frankly yet to see any substantial reports about where he has been working in OTAs so far and with what groups, but he certainly is not working with the starters, Joe Haden and Steven Nelson, unless the latter is getting some snaps in the slot, and even then Burns wouldn’t be the obvious or only choice to play on the outside.
There is Cameron Sutton, who also played ahead of him on the outside after he was benched, and rookie third-round pick Justin Layne, both of whom, along with Mike Hilton, figure to be roster locks, or close to it.
That’s five cornerbacks already, with the possibility of Brian Allen. If Burns makes the team, he will carry a cap hit of about $3 million, but they could clear some of that if he doesn’t. And if they don’t think he’ll make the roster, they can clear an extra $800,000 on top of that by releasing him before his roster bonus is due.