CB Alterraun Verner has been rumored to be on a short list of NFL teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers. This latest news is a huge surprise to Steelers fans because Verner is one of the top free-agent cornerbacks on the market and the Steelers franchise isn’t traditionally known to sign big free agents, especially over the past three seasons. The Steelers have a serious need at cornerback, and Verner is coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he intercepted five passes for the Titans, including one against the Steelers. The 5-foot-10, 187-pounder is only 25, and he has played every game in his four NFL seasons. He is incredibly talented and an upcoming superstar at his position in the league. He is also still young and still has room to grow. The Steelers have a strong history of great cornerbacks. The question is how much are the Pittsburgh Steelers willing to invest to get his services?
Steeler fans are all too familiar with the front office taking this conservative approach when it comes to signing free agents, especially the most coveted ones on the market. This type of signing would make this team more competitive immediately. There is no first or second round draft pick that would have this kind of impact initially or help them in more ways than Alterraun Verner. The market is not ideal for teams that need cornerbacks, like the Steelers, because of the salary cap issue. Verner would also be fairly expensive to most teams. On the open market he could demand a lot of money and have leverage to boot. Case in point, look at the contract Sam Shields just signed to remain with the Green Bay Packers. The Pittsburgh Steelers have demonstrated in the past few weeks that they aren’t afraid to make cuts in order to get under the salary cap. However, signing Verner would most likely mean the end for cornerback Ike Taylor, who would have to be released. Verner is eight years younger and a far better player right now than Taylor. An added bonus would be that the Steelers can focus more on their other need positions in the draft.
Another important consideration is that the Steelers have familiarity with Alterraun Verner. New offensive line coach Mike Munchak was Verner’s head coach in Tennessee for three seasons and defensive backs coach Carnell Lake, former All-Pro Safety from the Steelers, was Verner’s position coach his senior year at UCLA.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are also one of a handful of teams interested in free agent TE Jermichael Finley of the Green Bay Packers. Finley hasn’t been medically cleared to play for the 2014 season, but has a lot of football left in him should he fully recover. From their perspective, Finley is an intriguing player because, when healthy, he can be a very productive tight end and Heath Miller is getting older. Because of these questions, his price tag should be fairly low. Although, it is a risk to consider him at this point. Salary-cap space is limited, but as mentioned above, the Steelers are willing and inclined to make moves this offseason. Should they feel confident in Finley’s return to health, who is, by the way, only 26 years old? They are not a franchise that likes to take big risks, so unless Finley’s cost is minimal and the medical prognosis looks promising; the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t likely to bid.