In essence, 2021 did not go as it should have for cornerback James Pierre.
After struggling in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders and Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Pierre provided one of the signature moments for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season: a game-winning interception against the Denver Broncos in Week 5. For Pierre, it was a moment of redemption, as he had surrendered a 39-yard touchdown minutes prior, and it was evident the Broncos were resolved on taking advantage of him.
In the following weeks, Pierre regressed, as teams targeted him on a consistent basis. His lowest point came in Week 11 against the Bengals, as he surrendered seven of nine passes, including a highlight-worthy touchdown to receiver Tee Higgins in their 41-10 defeat to the Bengals. His struggles, combined with the emergence of teammate Ahkello Witherspoon, resulted in him seeing few opportunities on the field. Pierre did not play a single defensive snap until their final regular season game against the Baltimore Ravens.
With the addition of free agent Levi Wallace and the extension of Witherspoon to a two-year contract, Pierre's status on the team is in limbo. Even with veteran Joe Haden out of the picture, the Steelers could take another cornerback in this month's NFL Draft, potentially pushing Pierre further down the depth chart.
Despite how last season turned out, Pierre can still prove to be an important part of the Steelers' defense, but the road ahead of him will likely be a difficult one. If there is anything Pierre has shown in his brief time with the team, it is his ability to overcome adversity. As long as he remains on the roster, the opportunity should still be there for Pierre to rise again.