It’s always a peculiar feeling when the last player or players from a particular draft class finally leave the team, especially when it happens fairly early. While the Pittsburgh Steelers still retained four players in 2019 from their draft class of 2016, all four of those players have since left in free agency over the course of the past month.
Only one of those players would be one I would say they truly had no interest in retaining, that unfortunately being first-round cornerback Artie Burns. They obviously wanted Javon Hargrave back, and would have liked to have kept Tyler Matakevich for special teams, but both priced themselves out of their range.
Under different circumstances, the Steelers might have held on to second-round safety Sean Davis as well, but fate stepped in and changed plans. After he went down Week Two, the Steelers traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick, and he took over Davis’ job for good.
Davis since signed a one-year contract with Washington, an obvious fit given that he is from the area and played his college ball at Maryland. Speaking to reporters earlier in the week, he called it “a no-brainer” to join the NFC East team, where he would pair with Landon Collins.
“The opportunity to come home and play for the Redskins, it was a no brainer”, he went on to say in what are I believe his first comments in the media since last season. “It was a really easy decision. Just glad to be a part of the organization”.
When first drafted, Davis opened his rookie season in 2016 playing the nickel cornerback role for the Steelers until he was injured early on. He then reverted to the bench, but began rotating in at strong safety midseason, taking over the position full-time after two games.
He spent the 2017 season locked into that job, but after the team released Mike Mitchell in 2018, he was moved to free safety. He was only going into his second full season at free safety in 2019 before he was injured, so he hasn’t had the chance to have a lot of stability in his career, heading into year five.
“I just like being on the field. I feel like I can play any position you really want me to. If I’m on the field, I feel like I’m going to make an impact on the defense”, Davis told reporters. “Just bouncing around, I feel like it’s evolved my game. It gave me a better understanding of the defense and how all the positions work together and how we feed off each other”.
That’s all well and good, but the Steelers are just grateful that he signed a contract that was large enough to be expected to count toward the compensatory pick formula, and will help net them at least a late-round draft pick in 2021 for his loss. Meanwhile, they have a first-team All-Pro manning his former position, albeit at the cost of a first-rounder.