Buy Or Sell: Draft Haul Ensures Ahkello Witherspoon An Early Exit

With the Steelers’ 2023 offseason underway following a disappointing season that came up just short of reaching the playoffs, it’s time to begin reloading, through the free agency process, through the draft, and perhaps even through trade.

This is now a young team on the offensive side of the ball, though one getting older on defense. Both sides could stand to be supplemented robustly, including in the trenches—either one. Changes have been made to the coaching staff, even if not all of the desired ones, as the roster continues to renew with the weeks ticking by.

These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).

Topic Statement: The 2023 NFL Draft class all but assured that cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon will be released soon.

Explanation: With the Steelers drafting two cornerbacks and signing another via free agency during the draft, many are speculating that veteran Ahkello Witherspoon will soon be released. Due $4 million in 2023, he lost his starting job last season and otherwise spent most of it injured.


That Witherspoon wasn’t going to be on the 53-man roster in September was nearly a given, even before the draft. But now the Steelers have added three more cornerbacks in the past several days and all will have a good chance of making the roster. That’s a big, flashing sign.

Patrick Peterson, Levi Wallace, and Joey Porter Jr. are your likely top three outside cornerbacks. Then you have Arthur Maulet and now Chandon Sullivan to man the slot, though both aren’t guaranteed to make the team.

That’s not even including James Pierre, a reliable special teamer, and Cody Trice Jr., the other draft pick. He might have been a seventh rounder, but his talent is certainly above that, his stock dropping for his medicals. And nobody will have to pay him $4 million. I’m sure the team wouldn’t mind recouping some of the cap space they lost from the Allen Robinson II trade.


Yes, the Steelers added three cornerbacks over the weekend. To the 90-man offseason roster. Only one of them has a guaranteed roster spot, and that’s Porter. No seventh-round pick is going to be assured of anything regardless of the reasons he was drafted so late. And Sullivan is a nameless JAG on his fourth different team since 2018.

That doesn’t mean Witherspoon is going to make the roster, but the draft really doesn’t change the circumstances. We knew the Steelers would be adding a cornerback early, and they’ve only added that one player guaranteed to have a roster spot.

The logic still holds that it makes sense to carry Witherspoon into training camp and let him try to earn a roster spot. If he doesn’t, then there’s no loss. He doesn’t get that $4 million if he’s released. In the meantime, you have injury protection and a fallback option. Pittsburgh was willing to let Pierre walk this offseason, so he certainly can’t be granted any kind of pass. Witherspoon had a bad year. It happens.

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