Pittsburgh Steelers: Exploring potential cornerback options before trade deadline

Steelers, Jaylon Johnson
Steelers, Jaylon Johnson / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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It's no secret that the secondary has been a major weakness for the Steelers thus far in 2023, particularly at the cornerback position. Patrick Peterson has taken a significant step back from what he was last year in Minnesota, Levi Wallace has been beaten frequently on the outside by whoever he's been tasked with guarding, and Chandon Sullivan hasn't been great either.

The lone bright spot at the cornerback position has been rookie Joey Porter Jr., who has flashed elite potential in limited playing time, however, the team continues to play underperforming veterans over him. T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, and the rest of the Steelers pass rush have helped mask what has been a massive issue on the defensive side of the ball, and even still the team has been getting carved up but their opponent's top receivers week in and week out.

While the Steelers likely will continue to generate a lot of turnovers and sacks due to the elite pass rush, it is undeniable that the team has been carved up by opposing offenses. The Steelers are in the thick of the AFC Playoff picture, and many other teams are going to make moves to address their weaknesses ahead of the Trade Deadline, and the Steelers would be wise to do the same, and take a look at these three cornerbacks.

3. Jonathan Jones, New England Patriots

Sitting at 1-5, in a division with two of the best offenses in the NFL, and one of the best defenses in the NFL, the Patriots are in uncharted territory. They still have one of the best coaches in the league Bill Belichick, but their roster is not even close to being good enough to compete in the loaded AFC. As such, the team would be wise to begin selling off some of their older assets, in order to recuperate some draft capital and help reload or retool for next season.

One of these veterans that the team should look to move in a trade is Jonathan Jones. Jones has never made a Pro Bowl but is a long-time starter for the Patriots, and was a member of 2 Super Bowl winning teams. The Auburn product has had a very respectable career in New England, but at 30 years old, he may only have a few quality years left in the NFL and doesn't match up well with the Patriots window to compete.

Jones is a small cornerback, who possesses elite speed and good ball skills. His speed would be a welcome addition to a Pittsburgh secondary that has veterans in Wallace and Paterson starting, and struggling to keep up with the athletic young wide receivers that have been thrown at them. Combine his speed with good ball skills, and it's easy to see why the Steelers could like him on their defense.

Jones is a versatile option who has experience playing both outside and in the slot in New England. His small frame likely projects him more as a slot corner, but he has shown an ability to play outside as well as a starter. He is tough and physical which the Steelers like in their cornerbacks, but his small size will likely cause him to miss his fair share of tackles. Although possessing very different strengths, the Steelers excelled for years with a small tough corner in the slot, by the name of Mike Hilton, and could love to deploy another talented player there.