Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Steelers couldn't afford Lewis

Keenan Lewis signed a five-year, $26.3 million contract with the New Orleans Saints on Thursday and the teeth gnashing began for Steelers fans.

Yes, I think Lewis is a good player. But he's not a great one.

To be a great corner, you have to create turnovers - period.

Lewis doesn't do that. In fact, in four NFL seasons, he has one interception.

The way the rules have shifted in the NFL over the past decade - and particularly the past five years - it doesn't pay to just have guys who can cover.

Look at the Steelers the past two seasons. They've ranked No. 1 in the league against the pass both years. But there have been times late in games that opponents have rallied late to win games.


One part of the answer is a lack of pass rush. But the other part of the equation is that the Steelers don't have a secondary that takes the ball away.

The Steelers feel that putting Cortez Allen in the lineup full time will give them somebody else - with Troy Polamalu - who can force turnovers. Allen gave them a glimpse of that in the final two games of 2012 when he forced four turnovers while seeing his most extensive playing time.

This is the kind of secondary they want to make a shift to. It's the kind of secondary they had early on in Bill Cowher's tenure. Rod Woodson had excellent hands, as did Darren Perry.

In fact, Perry was limited in all facets of the game except catching the ball.

We'll see a continued shift in Pittsburgh's philosophy come out of this year's draft. The Steelers are going to take a safety. And you can bet he'll be a player with ball skills.

So no, the Steelers couldn't match the 5-plus million per season for Lewis. They weren't going to pay that kind of money to a player who doesn't get them possession of the ball back.

And they have other holes to fill.


Steve-O said...

Dale, with the Steelers traveling to West Virginia, do you see a scenario where they might use their first pick on Tavon Austin?

Patrick said...

They are actually really thin at safety. Not that I'll miss Mundy, but hes gone and Will Allen is a FA too right?

Is there anyone on the roster they could move to safety? I don't see Gay there, nor trust him, and Brown seems too stiff. Victorian? Golden? ehh

They might have to draft two. And yes, they should have "ball skills."

(sorry couldn't resist, because apparently I'm 5)

Dale Lolley said...

They always go to WVU because it's close.

Will Allen is a FA, but he could still be back. They like Golden.

Lance said...

Dale, I could not agree more about Lewis, and I am glad the Steelers did not throw that kind of money his way, and then what, we potentially lose a play maker like Allen. We already have a very good corner that can not catch the ball, I love Ike, but we do not need Ike 2.0. I look forward to seeing Allen with a whole season to start, I also trust the Steelers to know what they got in waiting and their plan heading into the draft...most teams are losing players, look at the Ravens.

Anonymous said...

Come on Lolley. You're better than this. You've been saying for weeks how they could fit/resign him for almost exactly the contract he ended up settling for. And how much he wanted to stay in Pittsburgh. One million in capspace this year separate Lewis from Gay. And half what the 35yo coming off injury Ike costs. Lewis is the younger version of Ike in almost every way. There's no justifying this. It's a poor move. It's ok to say it.

Anonymous said...

Dale - I guess you think Ike Taylor isn't good since he doesn't create turnovers?

Dale is a hack

marc said...

in the interest of being accurate, dale said to be "great" you need to create turnovers. i think we can all agree with that.

the question isn't whether they could or could not afford lewis. but rather should they direct that money to the CB position or are there other areas that need more/better talent. at this time, allen can step up to the #2 CB spot and that money can go elsewhere.

Dan said...

It's better to have a CB who can cover but who doesn't generate many interceptions than a CB who can neither cover nor generate interceptions. Leading the league in passes defensed has to count for something.

To me, Lewis was a high-priority signing. Hopefully C. Allen or the others can step up.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan Cyprien in the B&G. Book it!

marc said...

dan, are you speaking of allen or gay when you say can't cover or create interceptions?

i assume gay, and i agree with you as a CB on the outside. but he does do a decent job in the nickel spot, which is all that will be asked (hopefull).

Anonymous said...

Now we're gonna lose Emmanuel sanders to the pats. We're gonna suck!!

Eric T said...

Pats are using Sanders visit as leverage to lower Lloyd's contract. No way they give him an un-matchable contract AND send a 3rd rounder (Pats only have 5 draft picks in 2013). Sanders has potential, but he is not worth that much.

Joe Jones said...

What's holding us back from bringing James Harrison back?

It's not like teams want to give him big money.

Anonymous said...

While it freed up his salary, all Harrison's dead money accelerated onto this year's books. $5m. So add that to whatever new salary you think for a re-sign, and that's what his cap hit would end up being for this season. Which I'm guessing is more than what it would've been if Harrison had just agreed to the Steelers number. In other words, that ship has sailed.

Dale Lolley said...

Think what you want, I don't really care. But remember, you're visiting my site, so who's the "hack?"

My point with Lewis is that you don't give him the kind of money he was asking for a corner who doesn't create turnovers. You already have one of those guys. There's nothing in his past to show he's ever going to be anything more than that.

As for Ike, he's 32. Last season was the first time he's missed a game in his career due to injury. And it was a broken bone, not a soft tissue injury.

They want to move away from defensive backs who don't create turnovers. To do that, sometimes you have to make a tough decision to allow a player to leave.

Do I think that Lewis is a good player? Sure. I've said so often. In fact, I wrote several times that he was a bigger free agent priority than Wallace.

But he's not somebody they can't replace. I like Cortez Allen a lot as well. And I think Allen can get four or five interceptions next season.