Mike Hilton is the AFC defensive player of the week for his play against the Colts last Sunday.  That is a well deserved honor for one of the Steelers most underrated players.

Here’s the problem.  The better Mike Hilton does, the less likely he will be back in Pittsburgh in 2021.  He is set to be a free agent after this season, and is in line for a very big contract. The Steelers have little to no money to spend next year on free agents, making it very unlikely that Hilton will be back in Pittsburgh.

The Comp:

Slot corners have generally been undervalued in the NFL over the years.  This trend is changing however.  The bar is now set with the recent free agent contract of Justin Coleman by the Detroit Lions. https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/detroit-lions/justin-coleman-17248/

Coleman signed a four year, $36 million contract in 2019.  Nine million per season seems to be the going rate at this position. Players like Trayvon Young and Chris Harris have recently signed at slightly below that mark.

Mike Hilton is right to think he can easily get $10 to $12 million per season in any new deal.  His play this season has made him one of the premiere slot corners in all of football.  Hilton’s unique ability to play the run, and rush the passer make him even more valuable.

The Cap:

No one knows for sure what the salary cap threshold will be in 2021.  The one thing that we do know is the Pittsburgh Steelers will be at, or above it entering the off-season.  That number does not include key players like Bud Dupree, Ju Ju Smith-Schuster, and Alejandro Villanueva just to name a few.  We have written about this problem several times here at Steelers Sanctuary.  Steelers 2021 salary cap is a disaster

The Conclusion:

The Pittsburgh Steelers salary cap is a real mess in 2021.  Unfortunately they will not be able top prioritize slot corner when the time comes.  Mike Hilton, like several others on this team, will leave in free agency due to the lack of cap space.  Kevin Colbert will have to add this position among many others to his list of needs in the upcoming NFL draft.