We’re continuing our series looking at former Steelers’ GM Kevin Colbert’s best and worst trades. This time, we’re taking a look at one that didn’t work out too well.
With a desperate need at cornerback prior to the 2015 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers made a preseason trade to acquire Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin. At the time, it seemed like a great trade. Boykin was coming off a season where he was ranked as the No. 21 overall cornerback by Pro Football Focus, and all the Steelers had to give up was a conditional fifth-round pick.
In reality, though, the trade did not work out. Boykin only played in 25% of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps, and while he did register an interception and five passes defended, his impact was minimal. He struggled to get on the field early in the season on a Steelers team that started Antwon Blake at cornerback for 16 games, and there were eight games where he failed to register a single defensive snap. He ended up becoming the primary slot corner by the end of the season, but he was one-and-done in a Steelers uniform.
Boykin’s last snap in an NFL game came in a Steelers uniform. His career is one that speaks to just how hard it is to play in the NFL and stay in the NFL. After a six interception season in 2013, Boykin was pretty much out of the league three years later. After his lone season in Pittsburgh, he was signed and then released just a few months later by the Carolina Panthers. He had brief stints with the Bears and Ravens, but ended up on injured reserve with both teams and never saw the field for any team. His last snap during an NFL game was during the 2015 Divisional Round Playoff loss to the Denver Broncos.
2015 was clearly not Colbert’s best year on the trade front, as both Josh Scobee and Boykin were acquired prior to the season via trade. Neither guy moved the needle in a positive way, and in the case of Scobee, he legitimately cost the Steelers wins. Boykin wasn’t that bad, but trading a fifth-round pick for a guy who can’t even see the field in half your games isn’t a positive move at all. The pick they traded ended up being OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who started 20 games for the Eagles between 2016-19 before signing a five-year, $45 million contract with the Detroit Lions, where he started 15 games at guard last season.
While Colbert was one of the best GMs in football, Boykin was a clear miss. The move had a whole lot of potential, but it just ended up being a whole lot of meh. Boykin just wasn’t that good, and while his counting stats were impressive, there was a reason he was relegated to slot corner work for pretty much his whole career. He couldn’t revitalize his career in Pittsburgh, and after four seasons he was out of the league. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, sometimes that’s just life in the NFL.