SUNDAY, 10:49am: Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that the conditional fifth-round pick will become a fourth-rounder if Boykin plays 60% of the Steelers’ defensive snaps.
SATURDAY, 7:02pm: The Eagles have sent cornerback Brandon Boykin to Pittsburgh, trading him for a conditional 2016 fifth-round pick, the Steelers announced today (Twitter link). According to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (via Twitter), that pick could become a fourth-rounder, depending on how much Boykin plays this season.
Boykin, who turned 25 on Thursday, had played in all 48 of the Eagles’ regular-season games since Philadelphia selected him in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. However, he only started six of those games, and said a couple months ago that he would welcome the opportunity to start outside, suggesting that the chance to compete for a starting job would be a priority when he reaches free agency.
It’s not clear yet whether Boykin will get the chance to start in Pittsburgh — William Gay figures to be the team’s top cornerback, but Cortez Allen struggled last year after signing a long-term extension. Still, I expect both players will see the field more often than Boykin. Antwon Blake and rookie Senquez Golson will also be in the mix for the Steelers, though Golson is still recovering from a shoulder injury.
From the Eagles’ perspective, Boykin had been a player the team considered moving for months, according to multiple reports. The signing of Byron Maxwell in March ensured Boykin would continue to play a complementary role in Philadelphia, and after the club added three more corners in the draft, he became even more expendable.
The Eagles did well do get a pick as high as a fourth-rounder for Boykin, since he wasn’t expected to be a major contributor in 2015 and is entering the final year of his contract. Tthe Georgia product will count for $1.542MM against the Steelers’ cap this year before becoming eligible for free agency in the winter.