In the summer of 2021, one NFL analyst labeled the decision to select Artie Burns No. 25 overall in 2016 as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ “biggest mistake” of the past six years. That said, some Steelers fans will be surprised to learn that Burns is not only still in the league, but that he is likely to be a Week 1 starter for the Seattle Seahawks, who signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in March 2022.
It’s no accident that Burns ended up in Seattle. Last year he appeared in 11 games for Chicago, and started six of the last seven games of the season for Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai. When Desai joined the Seahawks as Seattle’s new associate head coach (defense), Burns had the opportunity to follow him to the Pacific Northwest — knowing he’d have the chance to compete for a starting job.
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‘Burns is Having a Great Camp’
Fast forward to August 2022 and it’s clear that Burns, 27, is well on his way to realizing that expectation.
“Burns looked like a solid coverage guy in the spring and he’s continuing to be one during camp,” wrote Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic in late July. More notably, Burns has carried that momentum into the first week of August.
“Burns is having a great camp in coverage and making a case he should be one of the two starting corners,” added Dugar earlier this month, having already detailed the former 1st-round pick’s spirited battles against Seattle’s $24 million per year wide receiver, D.K. Metcalf.
“The cornerback group in general is making life very hard on the offense,” with Burns among the biggest standouts, related Dugar.
“He’s likely to be a starter even with two promising rookies pushing for playing time,” advised a recent feature by the Associated Press.
“To have the opportunity to bring him here, it’s hard to find a kid with those kind of measurables and talent,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt told the Associated Press. “We still feel like he is an ascending player,” he said about Burns. “He has great command, helps out the young guys, and I see the arrow going up on Artie on where he’s going.”
Of course, it’s been a long time since Burns was a first-stringer for a full-season. He hasn’t started more than six games in any year since he started 16 in 2017, his second season with the Steelers, when he contributed 54 tackles (47 solo), with one interception and 13 passes defensed, as per Pro Football Reference.
But it was all downhill in Pittsburgh after that, and his playing time diminished rapidly over the course of the next two seasons as he was repeatedly burned in coverage.
A 2nd Chance in Chicago
Burns got a chance to resurrect his career in Chicago, signing a one-year contract with the Bears in March 2020. But he suffered a torn ACL in training camp and spent the year on injured reserve.
The Bears brought him back on another one-year deal in 2021, and though he failed to make the team’s 53-man roster, he was re-signed and went on to became a regular contributor, beginning on special teams.
To date, Burns has appeared in 69 career games (38 starts). He has been credited with 172 tackles (140 solo), four interceptions, 33 passes defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
Steelers fans may soon get an opportunity to see Burns in action once again, as the Seahawks visit Acrisure Stadium in the preseason opener for both teams on the evening of Saturday August 13.
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