Pittsburgh Steelers

Bears’ new cornerback Artie Burns' inspiring journey to the NFL

Bears’ new cornerback Artie Burns' inspiring journey to the NFL

Once it was announced that Chicago signed Pittsburgh Steelers’ cornerback Artie Burns to a one-year deal on Saturday, fans scoured the web to see what information they could find about the newest member of the Bears’ defense. Something many fans might not know is that Burns has overcome a lot of obstacles to get where he is today. 

Before he was the Steelers’ first-round, 25th overall pick in 2016, Burns become the man of his household after his father left when he was 11-years-old. Burns’ father, Artie Burns Sr., has been serving a prison sentence at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, South Carolina since 2006. Burns Sr. has not seen his son since leaving the family but listened on the prison radio as his son was drafted to the NFL. He called Burns to congratulate him.

Burns spent most of his childhood helping his mother raise his two younger brothers.

 "I had to step up and be that male role model to them," Burns said in a 2016 interview with ESPN. "We depended on each other."

Burns’ role as caregiver grew after his mother died of a heart attack in 2015. 

"[Her death] kind of motivated me to keep going, and that is definitely going to motivate me now to step into the league and win a Super Bowl," Burns said to ESPN. 

At 24 years old, Burns is the sole provider for his brothers, girlfriend and child, which motivates him even more to excel on and off the field. In 2017, Burns won the Steelers’ Ed Block Courage Award for his dedication to the team and his family. 

Burns is a player with heart and determination, which is exactly what the Bears’ organization needs as they strive to make the playoffs in 2020-21.

RELATED: Bears sign former 1st round pick CB Burns to one-year deal

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The Bears continue to add defensive depth with a one-year deal for cornerback Artie Burns

The Bears continue to add defensive depth with a one-year deal for cornerback Artie Burns

The Bears clearly went into this offseason prioritizing defensive depth, as the team has reportedly made another move on Saturday afternoon to address that side of the ball: 

Burns is a former first-round pick out of the University of Miami, where he was teammates with the recently re-signed Deon Bush. The corner, still only 24 years old, was drafted No. 25 overall in 2016 and started nine games for Pittsburgh as a rookie, logging 52 solo tackles and three interceptions. 

The following season, Burns started all 16 games for the Steelers, but his playing time has since dwindled. He was Pro Football Focus' 63rd-best corner that season and has yet to match his overall grade (72.4) in either year since. Pittsburgh declined to pick up his fifth-year option, and despite missing two games with a knee injury this season, the writing was on the wall for Burns (who only started one game in 2019) when the Steelers made him a healthy scratch for the last month of the season. 

Burns joins former CFL corner Tre Roberson as reclamation projects who the Bears hope can help a secondary that will look much different next season. The release of Prince Amukamara opened up a spot alongside Kyle Fuller, meaning Burns will join Roberson, Kevin Toliver, and whoever else Pace may sign or draft in a battle for the starting job.

RELATED: Bears bring back S Bush on 1-year, $1.4 million deal

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Steelers sign RB Kerrith Whyte, Jr. from Bears' practice squad

Steelers sign RB Kerrith Whyte, Jr. from Bears' practice squad

With the exception of running back David Montgomery, the Bears' 2019 rookie class has been an utter disaster.

That disaster was made a little bit worse on Saturday when the Pittsburgh Steelers signed seventh-round pick Kerrith Whyte Jr. off the Bears' practice squad. Whyte, who played second fiddle to Devin Singletary as a collegiate running back at FAU, had a strong preseason in his effort to make the final roster. Ultimately, those efforts fell short, but he impressed enough to earn a spot on the Bears' practice squad, where he's been stashed all season.

Whyte was part of a draft class that included Montgomery (third round), wide receiver Riley Ridley (fourth round), cornerback Duke Shelley (sixth round), Whyte (seventh round) and defensive back Stephen Denmark (seventh round).

Not much can be expected from a rookie class that's without a first or second-round pick, but it's surprising that Ridley and Shelley haven't contributed more than they have. Ridley has yet to record a snap this season.

The Bears' decision to waive running back Mike Davis last week leaves the team with Montgomery, Tarik Cohen and Ryan Nall on the depth chart. 

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