Fifth-Year Option Declined, Burns Down to Last Chance

Steelers CB could be facing a prove-it minicamp this week

Josh Rowntree
June 11, 2019 - 12:39 pm
Steelers CB Artie Burns at OTAs in 2019

Josh Rowntree - 93.7 The Fan

In January, the Steelers made a decision that could be a strong sign of things to come regarding cornerback Artie Burns. 

Pittsburgh declined Burns’ fifth-year option, which would make him a free agent following this season, should the team decide not to offer a contract extension.

As it stands and given Burns’ lack of production as his once-promising career has progressed, that seems highly unlikely.

“Can’t control that,” Burns said Tuesday as Pittsburgh began minicamp. “That’s on our front office, man. The only thing I can control is what I go out there and do. If they don’t want to pick up my fifth-year — well, they didn’t — but whatever deal they’ve got in mind for me is on them.”

Burns may not even get the opportunity to prove himself this season. If he is on the roster when training camp begins in July, the team will owe him an $800,000 bonus.

So this week’s minicamp could be a prove-it week for Burns.

“Just getting better all the way around,” he said of his mentality this offseason. “There’s nothing that I can do. The only way you can improve yourself is when game time comes. There ain’t no magic in offseason work. Unless you come in and make plays in game, there’s nothing else you can do.”

But Burns has had opportunity to make plays. Last season, the former first-round pick ended up on the bench. In March, Pittsburgh went out and signed former Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson to a three-year deal. In April, the team used a third-round draft selection on Michigan State corner Justin Layne. 

“It’s a business move,” Burns said. “It’s what they want to do. I can’t control that. The only thing I can control is my effort.”

Through three seasons in Pittsburgh, Burns has made 141 tackles. As a rookie, he had three interceptions and, by most accounts, became a promising playmaker in Pittsburgh’s defense. But he has one interception over the last two seasons, including none last year, and at times looked either out of position or flat out lost on the field. 

“I could have just had a better year last year,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about right now. There ain’t nothing else. I feel like I’ve been doing pretty much of a good job. Whatever happens next, it happens.”

Burns knows what has to happen.

“Get right or get gone,” he said. “Simple.”

Unfortunately for him, however, time is running out. 

Hear all of what Steelers cornerback Artie Burns had to say below.