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Steelers All 90: Playing Time Trending Wrong Way for CB Justin Layne



Steelers CB Justin Layne

All 90 is a Pittsburgh Steelers Now series profiling each of the 90 members of the Steelers 2022 offseason roster.

31 • Justin Layne, fourth-year cornerback, Michigan State
6-foot-2, 192 pounds, 25 years old

Acquired: Drafted with the No. 83 overall selection in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Last season: Layne played all 17 games in 2021, but saw his role in the defense decrease, playing in just 2% of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps. With Cam Sutton moving outside and Ahkello Witherspoon brought in by trade, Layne saw himself moved down to fifth on the team’s depth chart at outside cornerback. He remained a special teams staple, and finished the season with 16 tackles and a fumble recovery.

Layne found himself in legal hot water last offseason, when he pled guilty to an illegal gun possession charge in his hometown near Cleveland.

Career: Layne played sparingly in 10 games as a rookie in 2019, making three tackles. In 2020, he played all 16 games for the first time in his NFL career, and served as the Steelers’ fourth option at outside cornerback, but he lost playing time to then-rookie Justin Pierre down the stretch run of the season. Layne finished with 22 total tackles.

College: Made 26 starts in 34 games over three seasons at Michigan State after starting out as a wide receiver. Layne was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and ended his Spartans career with 79 tackles, 24 passes defended and three interceptions.

Camp outlook: Layne is probably in line to once again be the team’s No. 5 outside corner and make the roster as things stand right now, but it’s clear that the coaching staff does not have a lot of faith in his ability outside of special teams and his grip on a roster spot seems tenuous.

Future: Layne is entering the final season of his rookie contract and will become an unrestricted free agent in 2023. He has a $965,000 salary and would leave a $230,545 dead cap hit if released.

The rest of the 90:

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