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Steelers All 90: Levi Wallace Taking on Leadership Role

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Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Levi Wallace
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Levi Wallace works drills during OTAs at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, May 26, 2022 -- ED THOMPSON

The Pittsburgh Steelers added a couple of big names to its cornerback room this offseason including longtime veteran Patrick Peterson and rookie Joey Porter Jr. But, do not forget one of the defense’s main contributors from last season, Levi Wallace.

The Steelers signed Wallace to a two-year contract after the former undrafted free agent made a name for himself over his first four years in Buffalo. Wallace mentioned that the younger guys in the room are already starting to look up to him because the former leader at the position, Cam Sutton, is now gone to the Detroit Lions.

“Cam Sutton was that guy for me because he was in the system for so long,” said Wallace. “Now, a lot of guys are looking to me on how to play cornerback in Pittsburgh and I have only been there for a year.”

While Wallace is embracing the mentor role on the team, he said that it is nice to have a guy like Peterson, who he looked up to for so long, in the room that he can bounce questions off of and said the two have already been in contact with one another.

“It’s been good [to have Peterson in Pittsburgh],” said Wallace. “Both of us went back and forth asking each other questions. I’m asking him questions about football and life in general. I like the way he has carried himself for years as a professional and as a man off of the field. That’s been super great.”

The former Crimson Tide player acknowledged that young guys such as Porter and Cory Trice Jr. have impressed him due to their thirst for knowledge. He also shared some of the advice he has given to the rookies and other young guys.

“You have Joey [Porter] and [Cory] Trice and some other young guys that come in and are just ready to learn and ask you so many questions and want to do everything so perfect and want to have a great day each and every day,” said Wallace. “I’m like listen, ‘Everybody is a professional here, you have good days and bad days but it makes you appreciate the game a lot more.'”

Wallace played in 15 games for the Steelers a season ago and recorded a career-high four interceptions. Wallace did start the year a bit up and down but really found his groove down the stretch. Now with multiple additions to the position room, Wallace finds himself in a complicated situation. While he should be one of the frontrunners to start at the outside cornerback position, a battle for the jobs should heat up through camp and the preseason.

Regardless of who are the starters come Week 1, Wallace will play a significant role on the Steelers’ defense in 2023 and will attempt to put his best foot forward because he is in a contract season.

29 • Levi Wallace, Cornerback, Alabama
6-foot-0, 179 pounds, 28 years old, 6th Season

Acquired: The Steelers signed Wallace to a two-year, $8 million contract on March 17, 2022, after his contract with the Buffalo Bills expired following the 2021 season.

Last seasonAfter spending his first four NFL seasons in Buffalo, Wallace decided to sign a two-year contract with the Steelers. In his first season in the black-and-gold, Wallace recorded a career-high four interceptions despite only playing 15 games and starting nine of them. Wallace recorded his first interception as a Steeler in Week 5 against his former team, the Bills. He then hauled in interceptions in back-to-back weeks in Week 10 and Week 11. Wallace finished his season up by grabbing his fourth interception in Week 18 against the Cleveland Browns.

In total, Wallace played 709 defensive snaps for the Steelers in 2022 and recorded 48 combined tackles, four interceptions, and six pass breakups while allowing three touchdowns in coverage.

TJ Watt (90) and Levi Wallace (29) line up as the Steelers played against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. (Mitchell Northam / Steelers Now)

TJ Watt (90) and Levi Wallace (29) line up as the Steelers played against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. (Mitchell Northam / Steelers Now)

CareerA successful two-year span at Alabama was not enough to get Wallace drafted but he signed a three-year contract with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent. The Bills waived Wallace as part of the team’s final roster cuts prior to the 2018 season but re-signed him to the team’s practice squad the next day. Wallace was promoted to the team’s active roster for Week 10 when he made his first NFL appearance and start. In that game against the New York Jets, Wallace recorded one tackle and one pass deflection. He finished his rookie season with 37 combined tackles and three pass breakups.

In 2019, Wallace started all 16 games for the Bills at cornerback and played a total of 785 defensive snaps. He finished the year with a career-high 76 combined tackles to go along with two interceptions and six pass breakups. Wallace did allow a career-high five touchdowns in coverage in 2019. Wallace’s first NFL interception came in Week 15 against the Steelers on Sunday Night Football which helped the Bills clinch a playoff spot.

Wallace re-signed with the Bills on a one-year deal and started all 12 games that he played in. He recorded one of his two interceptions against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers on Sunday Night Football. He finished the season with 48 combined tackles, two interceptions, and seven pass breakups.

The Bills opted to re-sign Wallace to another one-year contract prior to the 2021 season in which Buffalo finished the year with the league’s best passing defense. Wallace was elevated to the top cornerback on the roster in Week 12 when Tre’Davious White suffered a torn ACL. Wallace played a career-high 993 defensive snaps as he started all 17 games for the Bills in 2021. He finished the season with 58 combined tackles, two interceptions, and seven pass breakups.

Year Team GP GS Snaps Tackles TDs Allowed Interceptions PBUs PFF Rating
2018 BUF 7 7 416 37 1 0 3 83.5
2019 BUF 16 16 785 76 5 2 6 68.6
2020 BUF 12 12 612 48 3 2 6 60.1
2021 BUF 17 17 993 58 4 2 7 66.5
2022 PIT 15 9 709 48 3 4 6 62.8

CollegeWallace walked on at the University of Alabama after playing defensive back and wide receiver at Tuscon High School in Arizona. As a true freshman in 2014, Wallace failed to see any playing time and sat out the entire season.

In 2015, due to Alabama’s depth at every position, Wallace did not appear in any games for the Crimson Tide again and still waited to log his first snaps for the team.

Prior to the 2016 season, Wallace earned a walk-on scholarship and finally saw the field for the first time as a Crimson Tide player. Wallace appeared in 11 games at cornerback and on special teams as he recorded 11 combined tackles and two pass breakups. He earned two special teams player of the week honors from the Alabama coaches during the 2016 season.

In 2017, Wallace earned himself a prominent role in the Crimson Tide’s secondary after many key departures and a strong junior season. Wallace finished his senior season with 14 games played, 48 combined tackles, three interceptions, and 15 pass breakups. He recorded two interceptions against SEC opponent Ole Miss which earned him SEC Co-Player of the Week honors. Following the season, Wallace was named Second Team All-SEC and First Team All-American by the Associated Press.

Wallace and teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick were semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2017.

Year GP TKLs INTs PBUs
2014 0 0 0 0
2015 0 0 0 0
2016 11 11 0 2
2017 14 48 3 15

Salary cap and future: Wallace is entering the final year of his two-year contract and will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2023 season. He will cost $5.48 million against the Steelers’ 2023 cap space. His cap hit includes a $4 million base salary and a $1.48 million prorated bonus.

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