Less than 24 hours before the Pittsburgh Steelers kickoff the regular season, they have signed cornerback Cortez Allen to a new five-year contract extension.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract, the 25-year old Allen is set to earn $1.431 million this season as he reached a contract escalator. Instead of a four-year contract extension on top of the last year left on his old contract, the Steelers have torn up the old deal and given him a brand new five-year deal. This five-year deal is worth a total of $26 million, an average of $5.2 million.
Earning $6.5 million per season in new money, he is now the 21st highest paid cornerback in the NFL in terms of average value per season.
Drafted by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, he has started 11 games over three seasons and has appeared in 44 of a possible 48 games.
Last season he recorded 51 tackles, 13 passes defensed and two interceptions in eight starts. One of these interceptions was returned 40 yards for a touchdown against Green Bay.
Pro Football Focus graded him as the Steelers second best cornerback last season––behind William Gay. As a whole Allen was ranked as the 36th best in the NFL out of 110.
Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 88.1 when throwing to a receiver covered by Allen last season.
In 2012 Allen only started three games, but recorded 55 tackles, three forced fumbles, 10 passes defensed and two interceptions. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 17th best cornerback in the league. Quarterbacks had a quarterback rating of 68.5 when throwing against him.
In terms of monetary value, Allen isn’t the 21st best cornerback in the NFL right now. He has shown the ability to be a good cornerback in the NFL, but he hasn’t been on the field enough.
At the moment this contract pays him too much money. However, Pittsburgh is paying him for how they believe he will perform––which is at a high level. This is the third contract extension this offseason from the Steelers which is like this. The other two went to center Maurkice Pouncey and right tackle Marcus Gilbert.
Since Allen has only 11 career starts, it may seem strange for the Steelers to reward him with a contract that pays him $5.2 million per season. However, he has been a consistent performer in the secondary for Pittsburgh. Stability is needed at the cornerback position in Pittsburgh and Allen is clearly the best cornerback on the roster.