Teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers are thought of as potential teams that might be busy during the free agency period that officially opens at 4pm on March 11th. Even though a team cannot execute a contract until then, the league allows teams to begin speaking with free agents, which began on Saturday.
According to Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennessean on Twitter and reported by FanSided.com, the Steelers have interested in soon to be free agent cornerback Alterraun Verner from the Tennessee Titans. The 25 year old and four year vet has been with the Titans all four years of his career in the NFL. During that time he’s amassed 241 tackles, 11 INT’s, and 50 passes defended. He had a very solid 2013 by grabbing 5 picks and defending 22 passes. Those kinds of stats would more than likely justify a heavy price tag. So why would a cash strapped Steeler team potentially lay down some big bucks for someone like Verner?
While no official move has been made in the case of Ike Taylor, many feel that the team will demand a pay cut or hand over his walking papers. At a little over in $7 million in cap hits and a performance that declined drastically compared to previous seasons, Taylor has become a financial liability to the Steelers. If Taylor won’t agree to a smaller pay over the next season or two, then the Steelers could cut Taylor and use his money to negotiate a nicely sized contract for the much younger and “splashier” Verner. Verner’s five picks last season (one came against the Steelers) were five more than Taylor caused, and in fact, it took Taylor four seasons what Verner accomplished in one from the turnover front.
What are the Steelers chances at landing Verner? Not that great unless they are willing to pay. Other teams listed with interest are the Giants, Lions, Rams, Vikings, and the Jets. According to Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinal, the Vikings have $33 million to work with, the Jets have $23 million, and the Lions have $12 million. Granted each of those teams have their own holes to fill and contract extensions to be made, but with the Steelers practically at $0 over this weekend, they don’t really have a play at Verner…. unless they cut Taylor.
Verner is expected to speak with teams up to the 11th at 4pm and make a decision quickly. Verner may not be the best corner in the league, but he has huge upswing with his age and the progression of his career when compared to Taylor. The Steelers could snag Verner, and if they do, take a bunch of pressure off in having to draft a corner in the early rounds of the draft.
Would Verner be a good move? Will the Steelers be able to afford him?