Steelers 2-a-days: Will Mike Hilton sign contract? Can Johnny Holton be the new DHB?
Editor’s note: From now until the first practice of training camp at Saint Vincent College, the Trib will be running through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 90-man roster, assessing each player’s outlook for the 2019 season. The breakdown will go through the roster in mostly-alphabetical order, (at least) two per day, between June 14 and July 26.
CB MIKE HILTON
Experience: Two full seasons after 2016 on practice squads
Contract status: $645,00 cap hit on 2019 tender he’s been presented but not yet signed
2019 outlook: With modern collective bargaining agreements governing free agency and rookie contracts, the “holdout” is a largely a relic of the past. But could the Steelers have a contract squabble of sorts for when training camp opens? Hilton has not yet signed his contract tender the team’s two-year No. 1 slot cornerback (and agent Drew Rosenhaus) making a statement that he is worth more than the standard third-year exclusive-rights free agent tender. On the open market, of course, Hilton is right. But he has little leverage under the CBA to get a new contact as an undrafted player with two years of accrued service time. Alejandro Villanueva pulled it off two years ago. Circumstances were different (mostly because starting left tackle is a more important position) but the Steelers don’t have an obvious alternative at nickel if Hilton isn’t available.
WR JOHNNY HOLTON
Experience: 32 games the past three seasons for Oakland
Contract status: $645,000 cap hit in 2019, would be restricted free agent after season
2019 outlook: Holton is one of the newest Steelers (signed in May). The comparisons to another speedy former Oakland Raiders receiver who excels at special teams are almost too obvious to ignore. The Steelers let Darrius Heyward-Bey go this offseason after five seasons with the team in which he served as the “gunner” on kick and punt coverage and filled in as a No. 4, 5 or 6 receiver. Holton has a similar profile (albeit as an undrafted player; Heyward-Bey was a former top-10 pick), though he lacks the veteran leadership presence Heyward-Bey provided. Still, if Holton shows value to special teams coach Danny Smith, his burner speed that can be flashed in small doses on offense make him an ideal 53rd-ish man on a roster.
Johnny Holton 64-yard touchdown on a DIME from Derek Carr! pic.twitter.com/WskgATLI2G
— Only 1 Nation (@Only1Nation_) October 1, 2017
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .