Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: CB Artie Burns
Stock Value: Down
Considering the fact that he was a question mark to even make the 53-man roster last year, perhaps it’s a bit harsh to classify Artie Burns’ 2019 season as ‘down’. Arguably, there were no expectations for him, so for him to have done anything is at least a flat line.
Interestingly enough, the Steelers did actually give him the opportunity to start one game last season when Steven Nelson was injured, and by and large, he held his own. But that was pretty much the only playing time that he got defensively during the year, with Cameron Sutton playing ahead of him in every other situation as the fourth cornerback, and top backup on the outside.
What’s even more concerning for Burns is the fact that, late in the year, he ended up serving as a healthy scratch, because even his work on special teams was found to be not up to snuff, presumably first and foremost being his below-par performance as a gunner.
Ultimately favored for a hat over him was the rookie cornerback, third-round pick Justin Layne, who was not given the opportunity to play defensively, but whom, obviously, the Steelers would like to see take a nice step forward for 2020. He did step up and improve on special teams as the season progressed.
Burns has already told members of the media that he has every intention of getting a fresh start and signing with another team in free agency, even if the Steelers would have otherwise been interested in re-signing him, which I imagine they will not be.
The team already has Nelson and Joe Haden under contract for the next two years, Layne for the next three. Sutton is heading into the final year of his rookie contract in 2020, while Mike Hilton is now a restricted free agent.
Regardless of all of this, though, there is nowhere in which Burns fits. With the same personnel, he would likely once again end up as a healthy scratch, achieving nothing but being a malcontent who believes he’s not being afforded the opportunities he might be given elsewhere.