Of the 20 players the Pittsburgh Steelers have who will soon become unrestricted free agents, perhaps there is no greater mystery than that surrounding free agent cornerback Brandon Boykin. Steel Certain Rising’s Steelers free agent analysis takes a look at Boykin and tires to see if we can make sense from the noise…
Capsule Profile of Brandon Boykin’s Career with the Steelers
Brandon Boykin holds the distinction of being the first Steelers acquisition that learned about through my wife…. The Steelers of course traded for Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles.
- The Steelers have been more active on the trading market of late, trading for Felix Jones and Levi Brown in 2013.
Neither player amounted to much, and perhaps that was a bad omen for the Boykin trade. When Boykin arrived, many expected him to push for a starting job. As it was, he found himself unable to get on the field in a year when the Steelers:
- Lost rookie 2nd round pick Senquez Golson to injury,
- Cut Doran Grant (before resigning him to the practice squad)
- Benched and injured and/or ineffective Cortez Allen
- Benched Shamarko Thomas (ok different position, but shows volatility of the secondary)
He got an interception vs. the Colts and ended up working a sort of “closer” for Antwon Blake, although Steel City Insider’s Jim Wexell down played Boykin’s role in the Steelers comeback win over the Broncos in the regular season.
On the flip side, Steel City Insider’s Jim Wexell singled out Boykin’s mental error on Denver’s critical 3rd and 12 conversion during the Broncos go ahead score vs. the Steelers in the playoffs…
The Case for Steelers Keeping Brandon Boykin
Brandon Boykin came to the Steelers with 48 games and 6 starts of experience, including one playoff start with the Eagles. The “knock” on him was that he fell out of favor with Chip Kelly, which is something you hear a lot… If there is one area on the Steelers depth chart that is screaming for help it is cornerback.
- It says here that Brandon Boykin is not the answer for the Steelers at cornerback.
But they gave up a 5th round pick to get him, spent a year letting him learn the system, and they know what they have in him.
The Case Against Steelers Keeping Brandon Boykin
One of the prime reasons why the Steelers let Dick LeBeau go and promoted Keith Butler was to simplify the system so that new comers could learn it more easily. Boykin, by all accounts, struggled to learn the Steelers defense.
While Boyking did make contributions when he started to get reps late in the season, he whiffed on what was arguably the biggest play for the Steelers. That’s not to say it was all his fault, but the playoffs are (generally) a good crucible for seeing which direction a player will go (Ziggy Hood in the 2010 playoffs being an exception.)
The Steelers have looked into bringing Brice McCain back.
Who wouldn’t have preferred McCain in 2015 to Boykin?
Curtain’s Call on Steelers and Brandon Boykin
As Jim Wexell has noted, as a free agent Brandon Boykin is going to draw interest from the rest of the NFL. The Steelers are likely interested to, but the fact is that the greatest probability scenario is some other team will make Boykin an offer that the Steelers are not interested in matching.
If that doesn’t happen, and the Steelers can bring Brandon Boykin back at a low value “prove it” contract, that would be a wise move. But that is not likely to happen.