ShareThis Page
CB Mike Hilton unsigned but present at Steelers OTAs | TribLIVE.com
Steelers/NFL

CB Mike Hilton unsigned but present at Steelers OTAs

Chris Adamski
1193637_web1_gtr-steelers111
The Steelers’ Mike Hilton celebrates after the Patriots’ last chance in the fourth quarter Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018 at Heinz Field.

He’s officially not under contract, but Mike Hilton is holding down his customary spot at Pittsburgh Steelers organized team activities.

After Wednesday’s session at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, Hilton confirmed both that he has yet to sign the exclusive-rights free agent tender the Steelers have presented him with and that he was taking OTA reps at the nickel inside cornerback. This is Hilton’s fourth NFL preseason, his third with the Steelers and his second since establishing himself as the Steelers’ No. 1 option to cover receivers in the slot.

But after two seasons, 31 games, five sacks, three interceptions and 14 passes defended for the Steelers in that role, Hilton has to this point politely declined to accept the relatively-paltry (by NFL standards) salary associated with an ERFA tender.

“No, not yet,” Hilton said of signing it. “But that’s why I am here. I want to be here and I want to show them I want to be part of this group for as long as possible. So, when that (contract) time comes around, hopefully things work out.”

Exclusive rights free agents have virtually no bargaining leverage and typically play for the league minimum. Most ERFA’s are former undrafted players with fewer than three years of service time.

Hilton was undrafted in 2016 and spent the summer and camp with Jacksonville before being among the Jaguars’ final cuts. He also spent a week on the New England practice squad in September but joined the Steelers’ practice squad that December.

It was during the following training camp he earned a starting gig with the Steelers. And though he was something of an under-the-radar sensation for the 13-3 Steelers that season, his production and playing time dropped – slightly – last season.

Still, Hilton opened up this offseason as the No. 1 slot corner, and the Steelers don’t have an obvious replacement. As such, that could serve as Hilton’s leverage in getting a better contract offer.

While it is rare that a ERFA can get a more lucrative contract, it was two years ago that Alejandro Villanueva used the subtle, largely-unspoken threat of a training-camp holdout to get a four-year, $24 million deal 21 months after he’d taken over as the Steelers’ starting left tackle.

Though he could be hoping for a similar outcome from a similar situation, Hilton shied away from negotiating or stating his intentions through the media.

“It’s up in the air; that’s something my agent, I will discuss it with him,” Hilton said. “(The Steelers) know I want to be here — and I’m trying to show all the signs I want to be here.”

Hey, Steelers Nation, get the latest news about the Pittsburgh Steelers here.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Steelers
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.