Cornerback Keenan Lewis came to an agreement with the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, which Lewis confirmed through his Facebook account. Contract details are reported to be 5 years, $26.3 million with $10.5 million guaranteed.
A source familiar with Lewis' contract negotiations said the New Orleans native gave the #Saints a bit of a hometown discount.— nakia hogan (@nakiahogan) March 14, 2013
The actual structure of the deal - with a $6 million signing bonus and a base salary of just $1 million in 2013 - really helps out the Saints, who are hard up against the salary cap as well.
Lewis played for the Steelers since he was drafted in 2009, cracking the starting lineup in 2012. He responded very well, finishing second in the NFL in passes defensed and helping the Steelers finish first in the NFL in passing yards allowed. But were the Steelers actually in the running to re-sign him? It's tough to say.
A native of New Orleans, Lewis went to high school with former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, who signed a 5-year, $60 million contract with the Miami Dolphins at the start of the 2013 free agency period.
The loss of Lewis likely thrusts CB Cortez Allen into the starting lineup, opposite Ike Taylor. The Steelers also signed CB William Gay to a three-year contract before the start of free agency. He will likely assume the nickel corner duties handled by Allen last season.
Lewis' departure marks the third consecutive day the Steelers lost an unrestricted free agent. Wallace signed on Tuesday, March 12, and running back Rashard Mendenhall signed with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday.