Meet Brice McCain, the newest Steelers roster addition

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Judged to be the worst cornerback in football last season by a prominent web site, McCain looks to use his best asset, his speed, to his advantage in the Steelers' special teams and retooled secondary.

Ex-Texans cornerback Brice McCain was, according to Pro Football Focus, the worst player at his position in the NFL last season. The site didn't rate him all that well in 2012, either. But in 2011, his third year as a pro, his contributions to that outstanding Texans defensive team made it appear his star was on the rise.

So which version did the Steelers just sign?

The contract suggests the latter, although it's hard to fathom how the latter was able to snag a contract. Still, an experienced defensive back who's not walking onto the team guaranteed a dime and won't be penciled in for any sort of a starting role isn't the worst signing a team can make, regardless of what a web site thinks of his performance.

The real issue here is the fact McCain signed his contract in April, as opposed to July or August, when the Steelers commonly sign veteran depth players. Special teamer and contributing defensive back Antwon Blake signed the same deal with the Steelers in September last season. Perhaps McCain is being brought in to compete with Blake for a special teams spot above all else.

His signing made headlines mostly because of when it was, not because of how much it was for or anything of that nature.

The Terrell, Texas, product played collegiately at Utah alongside former Steelers linebacker Stevenson Sylvester. Houston selected him in the sixth round of the 2009 draft, one year before the Steelers tagged Sylvester in the fifth round.

It's safe to say McCain wasn't the only Texans player who had a poor 2013 season. Pretty much everyone not named Watt did. It's a team game, and while that team is mostly a collection of individual match-ups, the collective loss on a play likely affects all of them.

One thing he has going for him is speed - keeping in line with what appears to be the Steelers' 2014 mantra of signing free agents who all have at least one noticable higher-level skill. He reportedly ran a 10.3 100-meter in high school, and ran a 4.33 40-yard dash (with a 1.47 10-yard split) at his Pro Day in 2009.

Special teams' gunners need speed above all else. The Steelers hung onto DeMarcus Van Dyke due to his speed, and while he didn't really pan out, it's a low-risk proposition, just like McCain is. And if nothing else, McCain did enough in Houston to earn a 3-year, $5.5 million contract last year.

A new coaching staff terminated that deal, probably for valid reasons, considering his performance. But he's showed he can play in this league previously, and if he's an asset to the Steelers' coverage teams, they got a veteran contributor at a low price.

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