PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers will release cornerback Justin Layne as part of the team’s final round of cuts to get under the 53-man roster limit by the 4 p.m. Tuesday deadline, according to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Layne, 25, was the Steelers’ third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but never lived up to the billing of his draft status, working almost exclusively as a special teams player in his time in Pittsburgh.
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.
He 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.
This training camp, the rotation remained constant with the addition of Levi Wallace and the departure of Joe Haden, but the Steelers appear to be keeping one fewer cornerback than they did in 2021. Pierre is the lone backup outside cornerback on the roster, though Sutton can move back to the outside.
Layne also got into legal hot water off the field, pleading to an illegal gun possession charge in his hometown near Cleveland in 2021.