After being released by the New Orleans Saints on Friday, cornerback Keenan Lewis might wind up in a familiar landing spot. He is heading to a visit Tuesday with his original team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to a source.
Lewis, 30, will have to show the Steelers he is close to returning from a lingering hip injury that became a source of contention between him and the Saints.
Lewis said recently that he expects to be close to 100 percent by Week 1. But he only practiced once during training camp and made it clear he didn’t want to rush back and risk a setback. Coach Sean Payton expressed frustration while saying Lewis' release came down to "availability."
ESPN Steelers reporter Jeremy Fowler said the Steelers could use an established third cornerback to complement William Gay and Ross Cockrell. With rookie cornerback Artie Burns nursing a quad injury and rookie safety Sean Davis playing nickel cornerback out of necessity, Lewis' playmaking skills would be welcome. And he certainly knows Pittsburgh's system.
Lewis’ medical history will be the issue, though. Fowler said the Steelers will be skeptical unless Lewis passes the team’s medical evaluation. If he does, the Steelers will evaluate cost-effective measures to sign him.
Lewis first suffered the hip/sports hernia injury during the 2015 preseason. He then required three surgeries between September and January while playing in only six games with zero starts last season. He said recently that he suffered another setback while working out in June.
Lewis also told ESPN that he never meshed well with new Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen -- dating all the way back to when Lewis was coming out of college in 2009. However, when asked if he noted any tension between Lewis and the Allen, Payton said, "I don’t think so. We didn’t have a chance to. He wasn’t on the field."
When healthy, though, the 6-foot-1, 208-pounder was playing at nearly a Pro Bowl level as New Orleans' No. 1 cornerback from 2013-2014. Before that, he impressed as a young cornerback with the Steelers, who drafted him in the third round out of Oregon State in 2009.
Lewis had a whopping 23 pass break-ups in his final year with the Steelers in 2012. He has seven interceptions and 53 PBUs in his seven-year career.
The source said that up to six teams have expressed interest in Lewis. His Pittsburgh visit was first reported by NOLA.com.