Proposed Trade Sends Steelers Potential Starting CB

Mike Tomlin

Getty A proposed trade sent head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Amik Robertson.

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed, re-signed or drafted five cornerbacks this past offseason. But Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine argued on August 24 that the Steelers should add one more cornerback through a trade.

Ballentine identified Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Amik Robertson as a potential trade target for the Steelers.

“Robertson was not one of the major problems for the Raiders last season. He ended up playing in 17 games, starting seven contests,” wrote Ballentine. “He had some decent ball production with nine passes defended and two interceptions.

“One team that could use some depth at corner is the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are set to start Chandon Sullivan in the slot, and Robertson is at least a comparable player who could give them another option.”

Robertson started seven games, including each of the final three weeks, for the Raiders last season. He recorded 38 combined tackles, including 2 for loss, 9 pass defenses and 2 interceptions in 17 games during 2022.

He also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble, which he returned for a touchdown.

How Amik Robertson Could Fit in the Steelers Secondary

Robertson began his career with the Raiders as the No. 139 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. He was a regular in the Las Vegas starting lineup last season, but the Raiders revamped their secondary this offseason.

With additions such as Marcus Peters, Brandon Facyson, David Long and Duke Shelley in Las Vegas, Robertson appears to be buried on the team’s depth chart entering the final preseason matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.

There may not even be room for Robertson on Las Vegas’ final roster.

But Ballentine argued the Steelers could still use depth at cornerback, particularly nickel corner. Robertson played more than half of his defensive snaps at outside cornerback last season, but in his three-year career, he’s played about 38% of his snaps on defense in the slot.

According to Pro Football Focus, Robertson took a big step forward, particularly in run defense, last season. He earned a 64.1 player grade from PFF, which ranked 88th out of 236 total cornerbacks.

Pittsburgh’s potential starting slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan earned a 55.8 PFF player grade. That was ranked 154th out of the 236 eligible cornerbacks.

If the Steelers traded for Robertson, they would at least be acquiring a player who could compete with Sullivan in the slot.

Pittsburgh’s CB Depth Heading Into the 2023 Season

Looking at Pittsburgh’s cornerback depth chart, Sullivan appears to be the team’s likely starter in the slot. But other Steelers cornerbacks may receive major playing time in the slot too.

Patrick Peterson, who the Steelers signed on the first day of free agency, seemed to imply on his podcast, “All Things Covered” during June that he could play some in the slot. In theory, he could even start in the slot instead of Sullivan.

The Steelers still have Levi Wallace and drafted Joey Porter Jr. at No. 32 overall in the draft. Both could start at outside cornerback with Peterson in the slot.

Safety Damontae Kazee is also expected to play all over the field as departed cornerback Cam Sutton did for Pittsburgh.

With that in mind, one could argue the Steelers don’t have much use for Robertson. At times, the Pittsburgh secondary has appeared so crowded that analysts such as Bleacher Report’s Matt Holder have argued that the Steelers could trade one of their cornerbacks such as Wallace.

In addition to Peterson, Porter and Sullivan, the Steelers drafted cornerback Cory Trice and re-signed veteran James Pierre. But Trice is out for the season after suffering an injury in training camp.

As it stands on August 24, Peterson, Porter, Wallace and Sullivan are locks to make Pittsburgh’s roster. Other cornerbacks such as Pierre and Elijah Riley could also make the team.

If the Steelers trade for Robertson, he may replace neither Pierre, Riley or even both, depending on how many spots the team dedicates to cornerback. That could be a difficult sell for general manager Omar Khan or head coach Mike Tomlin. Riley, in particular, played very well in the preseason game against the Buffalo Bills.

But Robertson could be an upgrade the Steelers consider in the trade market.

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