Steelers latest post-rookie minicamp signing is a head-scratcher

Anthony Averett is not a player the Steelers can count on to play a significant role in 2024.
Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers
Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers / Harry How/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers invited 21 players to rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. One of them is sticking around for Steelers training camp (and possibly for the 2024 season).

On Mother's Day, the Steelers announced that they had signed defensive back Anthony Averett. Pittsburgh finally gets some much-needed depth at slot cornerback.

The former Alabama product was a fourth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens back in 2018. After seeing just 7 starts over his first three seasons, Averett started all 14 games he was healthy for in 2021 in his contract year in Baltimore -- recording 3 interceptions and 11 passes defended while allowing a passer rating of just 77.5, per Pro Football Reference.

Since then, things have taken a turn for the worse, and Averett is looking to revive his NFL career. Was this the best move for Pittsburgh?

Averett fills a positional need, but Steelers can't rely on him in a major role

The decision to sign Anthony Averett makes sense when you consider the Steelers needed more help at defensive back. However, this becomes a head-scratching move if Pittsburgh believes Averett will solve their problems at slot cornerback.

Though Averett had a very solid season in 2021, the past two years haven't been kind to him. In 2022, Averett signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Raiders, according to Over the Cap -- a choice they would immediately regret. After missing four games early in the year, Averett recorded just 1 pass defended in 6 starts (7 games) and surrendered a passer rating of 134.7 when targeted.

Averett bounced around with the 49ers and the Lions in 2023, but both teams terminated his contract before he ever played a snap with them. Averett has not logged an NFL snap since Week 11 of 2022.

This signing becomes even more peculiar when you consider a few other factors. Averett hasn't played a single snap on special teams since Week 10 of the 2021 season, so he's unlikely to assist the Steelers in this department. He also turns 30 years old during the 2024 season, so there is no upside here.

On top of all of this, Averett has a history of nagging injuries and has had trouble staying on the field for more than a few games at a time.

When you combine all of these factors together, and consider that he's only had one respectable season before the age of 30, it's interesting to see the Pittsburgh Steelers sign him to a one-year contract. Anthony Averett still has to make the team, but the coaching staff can't count on him to have a significant role in 2024.