Coty Sensabaugh, a free agent NFL cornerback, is visiting the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero has reported. Sensabaugh has remained on the open market after Pittsburgh elected not to offer him a new contract.
The 115th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Sensabaugh spent his first four NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans before spending time with both the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams. One of Pittsburgh’s top free agent signings in 2017, Sensabaugh started in 14 of his 29 regular season games with the Steelers that included 10 starts – his highest total since the 2015 season – in 2018 after replacing Artie Burns in the starting lineup. Sensabaugh ended his Steelers’ career with 62 tackles (54 solo stops), one interception, nine passes defensed and an interception.
While the Steelers ultimately decided to let him walk, Sensabaugh did help improve a pass defense that finished in the middle of the league in yards allowed in 2016. In 2017, Pittsburgh’s secondary finished fifth in the league in passing yards allowed while playing a key role in the Steelers finishing the regular season with a 13-3 record. While they weren’t as stout in 2018, the unit still finished 10th in passing yards allowed.
A lack of turnovers – interceptions, to be specific – was probably one of the main reasons why the Steelers elected to let Sensabaugh walk in free agency. While it wasn’t entirely on him, Pittsburgh needs more playmakers in its backfield after the unit finished 28th in the league with just eight interceptions last season after finishing ninth in that department in 2017. The eight interceptions was Pittsburgh’s lowest collective total in 78 years.
Keith Butler, who is entering his fifth season as Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator, recently said that the team’s lack of splash in the secondary was perhaps the main reason for the Steelers missing the playoffs last season.
“We dropped a lot of interceptions last year,” Butler told the team’s website. “Our turnover/takeaway ratio wasn’t as good as it has been. I think if we can just catch some of the balls that we had the opportunity to catch…the year before we were 13-3. The difference between 13-3 and 9-6-1 were those dropped interceptions, for us, so we gotta make sure that if we get our hands on the ball we gotta make the catch.”
Sensabaugh will be replaced in Pittsburgh’s lineup by Steven Nelson, who was signed earlier this offseason after spending his first four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. Nelson provided plenty of splash last season, recording four interceptions to go with 15 passes broken up. The Steelers also drafted former Michigan State cornerback Justin Layne in the third round in this year’s draft. Layne broke up 24 passes during his three seasons with the Spartans that included 15 pass breakups last fall.