All 90 is a Pittsburgh Steelers Now series profiling each of the 90 members of the Steelers 2022 offseason roster.
42 • James Pierre, third-year cornerback, FAU
6-foot-2, 185 pounds, 25 years old
Acquired: James Pierre was signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft.
Last season: It was a struggle of a second season for Pierre, who Mike Tomlin called a potential starter at one point in the spring. But Pierre was passed on the depth chart by a string of acquisitions in Tre Norwood, Arthur Maulet and Ahkello Witherspoon, and by the end of the regular season, found himself without a role in the defense.
Pierre remained active for all 17 regular season games thanks to a special teams role, but did not see the big jump in playing time many projected for him in his second pro season. He finished the season with 47 tackles, three forced fumbles, four passes defended and one interception.
He was on the COVID-19 list for the team’s playoff game at Kansas City.
Career: Pierre surprised everyone by coming out of training camp in 2020 with a roster spot, and took advantage of a special teams role, primarily as a gunner, to play in all 16 games.
He was asked to do more on defense as the season went on and filled in with Joe Haden on the COVID-19 list the final week of the regular season and in the playoffs. He finished with 10 tackles, one for a loss.
College: After transferring from Syracuse, Pierre settled in at FAU, where he was a two-year starter.
He had 55 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and nine passes defended as a sophomore in 2018 and 44 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, seven passes defended and three interceptions as a junior in 2019.
Camp outlook: Pierre figures to have a relatively safe hold on a roster spot, but is in an intense battle with Justin Layne and to a lesser extent Cam Sutton to see who the team’s primary backup at outside cornerback will be. If he’s the No. 3 outside corner, Pierre could have a bigger role in 2022, but if he can’t stay ahead of Layne, he could be relegated to a special teams role once again.
Future: Pierre’s contract runs through the end of the 2022 season, after which he’ll become a restricted free agent.
The rest of the 90: