Player: Artie Burns
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2019 Salary Cap Hit: $3,051,677
2019 Season Breakdown:
A first-round pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016, Artie Burns is in the conversation for the biggest ‘bust’ in Kevin Colbert’s career as the team’s general manager. The young cornerback was considered a reach when he was drafted, after they missed out on William Jackson III by one pick, but while he showed early promise, he fell by the wayside.
Burns only played defense in one game last season, given the opportunity to start for one game while Steven Nelson was out with an injury. Even though he acquitted himself well enough, in the win over the Los Angeles Chargers on the road, that was the only chance he got.
Pro Football Reference’s advanced statistics actually have Burns surrendering four receptions on four targets for 52 yards and one touchdown and a perfect quarterback rating, with seven yards coming after the catch.
In all, he amassed 66 total snaps on defense after playing 308 the year before, and over 800 in each of his first two seasons. He logged 121 snaps on special teams, but it would have been even more than that had he not been benched toward the end of the season.
Rookie Justin Layne, a third-round pick who was seen as somewhat raw, seemed to be in for a redshirt year, but he was able to dress for some games due to injuries, and over the course of the year, he performed well on special teams. He ultimately took Burns’ helmet on Sundays, dressing over him for the final six games of the season, the former first-round pick a healthy scratch during that time.
Free Agency Outlook:
Burns has already gone on the record as saying that he has every intention of signing with another organization once he has the opportunity to reach free agency. As a former first-round pick who has 32 starts under his belt and six takeaways, it’s well within the realm of possibility that there is a secondary market for him in which he could earn himself a modest contract, either for one year or over multiple seasons.
The only thing that is definitely clear is that his career will not continue in Pittsburgh. They were not even committed to carrying him last season, and went about their business—signing Nelson, drafting Layne, extending Joe Haden—as though he were not even in the building.
Basically, it came to be that anything they would be able to get out of them would be a bonus. They got a little bit out of him, but now it’s clearly time for both teams to part company, becoming just the second former Steelers first-round pick since the fifth-year option was put in place to not have it picked up, the first of course being Jarvis Jones.