Now that the 2019 season is over, with a team other than ours having been crowned champion and there being much work to do to return to that status, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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
I’m sure most people at this point don’t even want to talk about, let alone think about players that they already know will not be with the team in 2020, and Artie Burns will certainly be among them. The former first-round draft pick at the cornerback position already said himself at the end of last season that he intended to sign with another team, rather than with the Steelers, though it’s unlikely Pittsburgh would express any interest in retaining him.
There are a lot of things that could be said that illustrate the fact that Burns’ stock has dwindled. The fact that he is clearly set on leaving Pittsburgh is itself an example of that. The fact that he spent the final six games of the 2019 regular season as a healthy scratch has to be the most damning.
While the organization extended him the courtesy of giving him the opportunity to compete for a spot o the 53-man roster last season in spite of the fact that it meant paying him a roster bonus of $800,000 just for the opportunity to do so in training camp, it was clear that there wasn’t a role planned for him defensively beyond as a backup.
The entire offseason was conducted as though he didn’t exist, going out and spending big (by their standards) in free agency on Steven Nelson, then using a third-round pick on Justin Layne, and finally closing the offseason by giving Joe Haden a two-year contract extension.
Of the three, the second proved to be the biggest impediment for him. In fact, in the game that Nelson missed due to injury, Pittsburgh allowed Burns to start that game. He did well enough, in a winning effort, but he wouldn’t play on defense again.
He was limited to special teams work for almost all of the season, but he lost even that role as the year went on. That was partially because of his own performance, but also partially because Layne was playing well in that phase when he got the chance to dress. By year’s end, he was getting Burns’ helmet, and that’s all she wrote for the first-round bust.