Friday, March 1, 2013
Top free agents in the division: No. 11
By Jamison Hensley
Free agency officially begins March 12, so the AFC North blog is counting down the 20 best free agents (unrestricted and restricted) from the teams in the division. Let's continue with No. 11 ...
Status: Unrestricted free agent
The good: Lewis proved to be tough physically and mentally. Last summer, he tightened his grip on the starting job when he hurt his shoulder early in camp and put in a full practice two days later. In his first full season as a starter, Lewis was tested often, getting targeted 112 times (second-most in the league, according to Pro Football Focus). He continually held up and led the AFC with 23 passes broken up.
The bad: While Lewis has good coverage skills and can break on passes, he needs to become more opportunistic. He has one career interception, which is a reflection on his ball skills. Lewis has to become more disciplined, too. His eight penalties ranked third among AFC North cornerbacks.
The bottom line: Lewis likely ranks at the top of the Steelers' priority list. But he could draw interest elsewhere, including here in the division. New Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton was the Steelers' secondary coach in Lewis' first two seasons in the NFL. The Steelers couldn't win a bidding war against a team like the Browns, who have tons of cap space. If the Steelers lose Lewis, they'll go with Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen as starters with Curtis Brown as the nickel back.