Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton has made no secret of his desire to sign a new contract this offseason, and it would appear that he has some sympathizers in that regard from some in the national media.
In an article highlighting the AFC’s most underpaid veterans released on Tuesday and penned by Danny Heifetz of The Ringer, the slot cornerback was the player chosen as the Steelers’ representative.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Hilton, Cornerback
Contract: One year for $645,000 (signed 2019)
The fine print: One year for $645,000
Total guaranteed at signing: $0
Average annual value: $645,000 (tied for 185th among cornerbacks)
2019 salary and bonuses: $645,000 (tied for 165th among cornerbacks)
“Hilton has been Pittsburgh’s primary slot cornerback for the past two years, and while his 2018 wasn’t as strong as his stellar 2017, he’s still far more valuable than the $645,000 tender Pittsburgh slapped on him this offseason. Hilton said he is not considering a holdout (after witnessing the Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown situations from the inside, it’s hard to blame him). But slot cornerbacks are getting paid more closely to what outside corners earn. Chris Harris Jr. earned a raise to $12 million to avoid a holdout, and Indianapolis made Kenny Moore the highest-paid slot corner in the NFL last month. If Hilton produces for a pittance, it could help keep Pittsburgh in playoff position.”
But while BTSC editor Jeff Hartman predicts that Hilton will receive the extension he is hoping for by the time training camp roles around, the team’s current salary cap situation suggests a new deal might not as forthcoming as the cornerback would like.
With just $984,968 in available cap space at the time of writing, there is every chance that Hilton will have to wait one more year before earning his big pay day. Set to be a restricted free agent in 2020, the former Ole Miss product should expect to earn at least $3.25 million next year if he receives an assumed second round tender.
However, having extended the contract of Alejandro Villanueva at a time was he was an exclusive rights free agent like Hilton is now, Pittsburgh has created a precedent that his agent Drew Rosenhaus is sure to have reminded the organization about on numerous occasions. Failing to do the same this year may not ultimately be received well.
Hilton has vowed not to hold out in an effort to force the teams hand ahead of the regular season, but you can be sure that his patience will be worn thin by daily questions about it from the local media once training camp begins.