Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Justin Layne has accepted a plea deal that resolves the felony gun case that resulted from a traffic stop in late April, this according to Kaylyn Hlavaty of ABC-TV News 5 in Cleveland.
Per Hlavaty, Layne pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possessing criminal tools (as well as two traffic-related violations), in Willoughby Municipal Court, which has jurisdiction in select cities, villages and townships outside Cleveland. In exchange, his felony gun charge was dropped.
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As part of the plea deal, he was ordered to pay a fine and his 180 days in jail were suspended. The presiding judge also ordered him to perform 32 hours of community service.
Additionally, he was required to surrender his gun and will be on probation for six months, this according to KDKA (CBS-TV 2) in Pittsburgh.
In the early morning hours of April 23, 2021, Lane was pulled over on I-90 in Willoughby Hills, Ohio, after being clocked at 89 mph in a 60-mph zone.
Officers subsequently determined he was driving under a suspended license and also discovered a loaded Glock in the center console of his Dodge Charger. Layne did not possess a license to carry the gun in Ohio.
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Justin Layne Will Be Competing to Start in 2021
With his legal issues now resolved, Layne can focus on competing for a starting cornerback job. The third-year corner—selected in the third round in 2019 out of Michigan State—has the opportunity to potentially replace Steven Nelson, who recently had his contract terminated in a cost-cutting move.
Layne’s primary competition for the job is veteran Cameron Sutton, with former undrafted free agent James Pierre (Florida Atlantic) also a dark horse candidate to secure a starting role.
Other recently-signed cornerbacks who will be competing with Layne for a roster spot include: former Chicago Bears seventh-round pick Stephen Denmark; former Los Angeles Chargers starter Trevor Williams; and rookie undrafted free agents Shakur Brown (Michigan State) and Mark Gilbert (Duke), the latter of whom is the cousin of former All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis and the nephew of longtime NFL lineman Sean Gilbert, who starred at the University of Pittsburgh and had an 11-year career that included four different teams.
Shakur Brown: Pittsburgh’s Next Impactful Rookie Undrafted Free Agent?
The Steelers have earned high praise for signing Brown, who was projected to be a third- or fourth-round pick in last weekend’s draft and is believed to be well-suited to play slot cornerback in NFL. As such, he will get a chance to compete to replace Mike Hilton, himself a former undrafted free agent who was Pittsburgh’s primary slot corner between 2017 and 2020. In March Hilton signed a four-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency.