Bears Signing Former Steelers First-Round Pick: Agent


Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Artie Burns chases Lamar Jackson during a Steelers-Ravens game in 2018.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers first-round draft choice Artie Burns hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since the 2019 season, but the once-promising cornerback will get another chance to re-establish his career in 2021 thanks to the Chicago Bears. Per his agent Drew Rosenhaus, Burns is inking a one-year contract.

The financial details have not been released, but presumably the deal is for at or near the minimum for a veteran of his experience level.

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Artie Burns’ NFL Journey

Burns had hoped to reinvigorate his playing career last summer, but he tore his ACL during the second practice of Bears training camp and spent the 2020 season on injured reserve.

His career got off to a promising start after Pittsburgh made him its first-round selection in the 2016 Draft, taking him No. 25 overall out of the University of Miami. He flashed the ability to be a starting cornerback during his first two seasons in the league, but then his game tailed off significantly and the Steelers declined to pick up his fifth-year option, ending his career in Pittsburgh after four seasons.

He went on to sign a one-year contract with the Bears in March of 2020, and literally abandoned his Cadillac Escalade at Pittsburgh International Airport on his way to Chicago.

Pittsburgh Has a Former Bears CB on its Roster

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh now has an intriguing former Bears defensive back on its offseason roster, that being former seventh-round pick Stephen Denmark, who at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, is similar in size to Steelers Hall of Famer Mel Blount. Denmark was selected No. 238 overall out of Division II Valdosta State in 2019 and spent his rookie season on Chicago’s practice squad, where he was coached by former Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend. The converted wide receiver went on to spend the first five weeks of the 2020 season on the Bears’ practice squad before he was waived and caught on with Cleveland, which added him to its practice squad for three weeks before cutting him loose in December 1.

Pittsburgh’s interest in Denmark dates back to before the 2019 Draft. In fact, he was one of the 30-plus players the Steelers hosted for official pre-draft visits that year. The Steelers had a chance to draft him in the seventh round, but instead went for Maryland offensive lineman Derwin Gray.

Derwin Gray Stays with the Jaguars

Gray’s name was in the news on Friday, as he has now signed his exclusive rights tender with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars claimed Gray in December of last year after Pittsburgh exposed him to waivers so it could add inside linebacker Tegray Scales to the active roster.

It was the second year in a row that the Steelers lost a promising offensive lineman on waivers. In mid-October of 2019 the team waived rookie undrafted free agent Fred Johnson and he was claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals. Johnson went on to start for the Bengals at left tackle when Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh on December 21st.

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