On Sept. 6, 2014, the day before their regular season opener against the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers re-signed CB Cortez Allen to a five-year $26 million deal. Less than six months later, the team is noncommittal about Allen's status as a member of the Pittsburgh secondary.
"I think Cortez enters the season where he left off," GM Kevin Colbert said. "We have to find out about Cortez and if he can accept the challenge of being a starting NFL corner. He's showed signs of that in the past. He was productive in spurts with us in the past," according to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Allen was benched in Week 6 last season due to poor performance. He missed five games last season, ending the year on the injured reserved where it was revealed he likely would need knee surgery.
Having committed five years to Allen and possessing a lack of depth at the position, it appears as if he will enter training camp with every opportunity to make the team. The Steelers, while thin at the position, haven't drafted a cornerback in the first round of the draft since 1997, and with other needs, it's possible they could forgo the selection again in 2015. Colbert and Co. certainly aren't committed to Allen as a member of the team, but they haven't given up on him yet, either.
"You can't figure that he is just going to come in and be the guy. He has to work his way back to be the guy," said Colbert.
Allen, who himself is still a young player at only 26-years old, has plenty of time to right the ship and get his career back on track. Colbert has acknowledged Allen's previously demonstrated level of talent, and the extension he signed last season serves as a vote of confidence regarding his ability. While it's unsafe to assume Allen will emerge as the Week 1 starter in 2015, it is certain Allen is going to take his very best run at the opportunity granted to him.