Entering the 2021 offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers are on the verge of losing both rotational cornerbacks Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton to NFL Free Agency. To add to the chaos, Joe Haden is not getting any younger and 2019 signee Steven Nelson has not lived up to his expected potential. The position will need to be addressed before the kick-off of the new season.
Although Pittsburgh isn’t known for making big splashes and his team is $20 million over the salary cap, there are still reliable options hitting the market that could fill the cornerback hole for a year or two.
Here are three affordable and experienced Steelers free agency targets at the cornerback position.
Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agency Targets
Desmond King, Tennessee Titans
The 5-foot-10-inch corner-safety hybrid enters free agency as a physical tackler and adds support in the run game. On film, King is always moving downhill and looking to frustrate opposing offensive coordinators. His struggle in zone coverage has stagnated his progression and is the reason why he has entered the free-agent market.
However, in just four seasons, King has accounted for 244 total tackles and 8.5 sacks. He has also added four interceptions to his resume, where two of them were brought back for a touchdown. Pittsburgh could use Desmond King to fulfill Mike Hilton’s spot in the slot and let him free in blitz packages.
Xavier Rhodes, Indianapolis Colts
Signing Xavier Rhodes after a sneaky good season with the Colts could be an under-the-radar acquisition that helps the Steelers immediately. Rhodes separates himself from others at his position with his length and ability to cover big receivers. He has the footwork and agility that is needed to play cornerback successfully.
The two-time Pro Bowl selection (2016, 2017) has eight seasons under his belt. And after being let go by the Minnesota Vikings and signing a one-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts, he may look to join another team. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler could use Rhodes on the opposite side of Joe Haden and move Steven Nelson to the slot.
Terrance Mitchell, Cleveland Browns
If Pittsburgh wants to avoid having to re-establish a cornerback’s career, then they should heavily consider taking a look at Terrance Mitchell. Last season with the Browns, Mitchell started all 16 games and played 99.4% of all snaps. The seven-year veteran entered the NFL as an undrafted practice squad member and battled his way to a starter.
Mitchell doesn’t force the takeaways most teams look for. However, he makes up for it with his man and zone coverage. The knowledge and attention to detail Mitchell plays with almost guarantees he will end up in the right place at the right time. The Steelers could take the pressure off of Joe Haden and allow things to run more freely in the secondary.