2023 Stock Watch – CB James Pierre – Purchased

With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we have turned our attention to the offseason. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.

Player: CB James Pierre

Stock Value: Purchased

Reasoning: The Steelers officially announced that cornerback James Pierre is returning on a one-year contract. He was due to be a restricted free agent, but they chose not to tender him even at the lowest level, which would have cost over $2.6 million.

It’s probably safe to wager that the Steelers are not done tinkering with their cornerback room this offseason. They have already lost Cameron Sutton as a starter but replaced him with Patrick Peterson. They also released William Jackson III, who never played a down for them, and his huge contract.

The latest move was to bring back James Pierre, a fourth-year former college free agent who has spent his entire career here. Once thought to be a potential diamond in the rough, he hasn’t yet developed into a full-time starter. But he is a key special-teams contributor and can, at the worst, serve provide valuable depth on the outside.

With six career starts in 50 games, Pierre has logged 701 defensive snaps, including 260 in 2022 after seeing a career-high 414 a year earlier. He started four games that year, but only two this past season, due to injuries.

After playing zero defensive snaps for the first four weeks of the season, Pierre was called on in Buffalo, logging 23 snaps, before starting the next two games in Tampa Bay and Miami as the secondary dealt with injuries. The secondary played surprisingly well despite being made up mostly of backups against the Buccaneers, including Pierre.

In the second half of the season, he recorded a pretty interception against the Indianapolis Colts on the second defensive play of the game, although the offense wasn’t able to do anything with it. It did set the tone for the first half, though the defense didn’t carry it through the whole game in spite of a win.

As it currently stands, Pierre will battle Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace for the fourth cornerback spot, with Wallace and Witherspoon also fighting to be the second cornerback alongside Peterson. That is assuming the Steelers don’t release Witherspoon, who is due $4 million in salary in 2023. Now that Pierre is back, that is a bit more likely of a possibility.

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