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2023 Steelers Exit Interviews: Cory Trice Jr. and James Pierre

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 NFL season has come to a close. Because the Steelers are among the 31 teams who did not finish fulfilling their ultimate goal, they are in the process of wrapping up their season and moving forward into 2024.

Since the Steelers conduct exit interviews with all their players, and the fact I have done these articles in the past, we thought we would do the same here at Steel Curtain Network. By outlining two players each day, we will be able to look at their season in retrospect as well as looking toward the future. Since Coach Tomlin has previously stated he starts his interviews with rookies and those heading into free agency, we will attempt to do the same to some degree. To start, we will pair the most recent draftees with another player at the same position (if possible) as we work through this process to eventually cover the entire Steelers roster.

Next up are cornerbacks Cory Trice Jr. and James Pierre.

Cory Trice Jr.

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Cornerback
Years with the Steelers: 1
Years in the NFL: 1
Contract Status: Signed through 2026
Contract Details: $816,109 salary cap hit for 2024. Would cost the Steelers $63,327 in dead money if released and save $752,782.
Games played in 2023: None (Reserve/Injured List)
Games started in 2023: None
Snaps (regular season): None
PFF score: None
Notable stats: None

Notes: There’s not much to gather about Cory Trice after he tore his ACL in the first padded practice of training camp in 2023. While Trice reportedly looked good through OTAs and the first few days of training camp, it’s really hard to say what he would have become in 2023 if it were not for the injury. But much like wide receiver Calvin Austin last year, Trice comes into 2024 as a big unknown. The difference is as a former seventh-round draft pick there is no guarantee of Trice making the roster while Austin at least had his draft pedigree going for him. While many Steelers fans are already talking about Trice taking over the other starting spot across from Joey Porter Jr., that is putting a lot of faith in a very big unknown. The wise move when it comes to looking at Trice for 2024 is to see if he is both healthy enough and has the skills to even make the Steelers 53-man roster. Anything more than that is a bonus.

James Pierre

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Cornerback
Years with the Steelers: 4
Years in the NFL: 4
Contract Status: Free Agent
Contract Details: Contract expiring with no dead money.
Games played in 2023: 16 regular season
Games started in 2023: None
Snaps (regular season): 26 (defense), 269 (special teams)
PFF score: 40.4 (DNQ for ranking); 58.5 for special teams
Notable stats: During the regular season, Pierre had 8 tackles. According to Pro Football Reference, Pierre was targeted 2 times in coverage and gave up 2 completions for 18 yards and one touchdown.

Notes: After signing a less expensive one-year deal last offseason after the Steelers did not offer James Pierre a restricted free agent tender, he made the roster but saw very few snaps on defense. But by being a key special teams contributor, Pierre was active every week except for missing the Patriots game due to injury. When the Steelers had to call on Pierre defensively, the results were not good. Even as Joey Porter Jr. was trying to get back on the field after a stoppage of play due to injury, he was kept out and Pierre surrendered a touchdown against the Seahawks which gave Seattle the lead in the first half. But the Steelers rebounded with the return of Porter and won the game. As much as Steelers fans are critical of a player like Levi Wallace, he offers much more the secondary than Pierre at this point of his career. Whether James Pierce signs with the Steelers or somewhere else this offseason, his most logical— and perhaps only— path to the roster lies as a special teams player.

Make sure you check back each day for another set of exit interviews. If you have missed any of the previous articles, they are listed here:

Broderick Jones & Chuks Okorafor
Joey Porter Jr. & Levi Wallace
Keeanu Benton & Montravius Adams
Darnell Washington & Rodney Williams
Nick Herbig & Markus Golden


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