Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns reported to Latrobe on Thursday for the start of the team’s 2019 training camp and it appears as though the former first-round draft pick will indeed soon get the roster bonus that’s due him.
According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday, the Steelers appear to be ready to pay the $800,000 roster bonus that Burns is due on Sunday, the third day of training camp. Once that roster bonus is paid to Burns, it’s his and thus would count as dead money against the salary cap should the Miami product ultimately be cut at a later date.
Burns, who was benched for poor play midway through last season, is also scheduled to earn a base salary in 2019 of $957,862. His cap charge in 2019 is scheduled to be $3,051,677.
There has been a lot speculation for most of the offseason that Burn would be cut or traded by the Steelers prior to them paying him his roster bonus. A lot of that speculation came began right after the Steelers decided not to pick up Burns’ fifth-year option for 2020 before this year’s deadline to do so.
Burns has been very quiet all off season and he talked to the media very little during the team’s OTA sessions. When he did talk, he made it clear that he knows his roster spot isn’t guaranteed in 2019.
“Get right or get gone,” Burns said this spring. “It’s that simple.”
In his first three seasons in the NFL, Burns, who turned 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. Earlier this offseason, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if was disappointed in Burns’s play during the 2018 season and he certainly didn’t bite his tongue while answering that question.
“Not a little bit disappointed – disappointed, certainly,” Tomlin said at the annual league meetings in March “Having the ability to carry those talents into a stadium kind of defines us, or inability the do so, so certainly.”
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert also made his thoughts clear on Burns’ potential future in Pittsburgh earlier this offseason as well.
“That’s up to Artie,” Colbert said of Burns this past April. “Artie came in as a rookie and played pretty good for us that first year and over the last two years he hasn’t. And you know, it’s really a confidence issue with Artie. Artie lost his confidence and wasn’t where we needed him to be and was replaced in the starting lineup.”
Colbert, however, did have some positive comments on Burns back in April.
“He’s had a good offseason,” Colbert said during a radio interview. “He’s only been with us for the last week and a half in the phase of the workouts we’re in, but we had good meetings with him. He wants to be back where he was. He certainly has the talent to be and he works at it. He’s just got to find that confidence again. And if he does, he can be a successful NFL starter. But he knows it, we know it and it’s been talked about and we’re encouraged by his wanting to be back where he needs to be. And if he gets there, great, that’ll be good for him, it will be good for us and we’re going to support that and see where it goes.”
Other than Burns, the Steelers dont have much experienced depth at the cornerback position entering this year’s training camp. Behind outside starters Joe Haden and Steven Nelson and starting slot Mike Hilton are Burns, Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen, Justin Layne, Marcelis Branch, Alexander Myres, and Herb Waters. Sutton and Allen are both former draft picks that haven’t played a ton while Layne was drafted by the team this year in the third-round. The other younger cornerbacks Branch, Myres and Waters, all have zero NFL experience.