Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Cap Space vs. Depth, What Will the Steelers Do With Ike Taylor?


 

Clearing salary cap space to re-sign at least some of their 21 soon to be unrestricted free agents will be a top priority for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ brass this spring. To make room for the players with expiring contracts, the team would be wise to release or restructure the current deal of an expensive veteran like cornerback Ike Taylor.

According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers would be able to clear $7 million worth of cap space if they release the soon to be 34-year-old.

Even if they choose not to release Taylor, the team should ask the cornerback to take a hefty pay cut after the way he performed last fall. Taylor played so poorly that the coaching staff did not allow him to cover opposing teams’ number one receivers towards the end of last season.

Missed tackles, missed assignments in coverage and being bested on a consistent basis on the back-end were more of the norm than usual for the veteran last fall. Plus, the fact that Taylor failed to record a single takeaway in 2013 has to weight heavily on the minds of those in the front office.

Since the veteran cornerback is set to count for $11.9 million against Pittsburgh’s salary cap this year, one has to wonder the following:

 

What will the franchise decide to do with Taylor this spring?

 

If defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was not coming back this fall, I would have no issue with the team releasing Taylor to clear cap space. Pittsburgh could draft multiple rookies, have them compete for playing time with Curtis Brown behind William Gay and Cortez Allen, and then go forward from there.

Since LeBeau is set to stick around this fall, then it is unlikely that any rookies drafted by the team will see the field at all at cornerback. Thus, keeping Taylor around, if he agrees to a pay cut, will be of the utmost importance for Pittsburgh’s defense due to the team’s lack of experienced depth at cornerback.

Make no mistake, I would love to see Brown, Isaiah Green and a rookie or two be thrown into the fire on the defensive side of the ball early and often this year. However, if history is any indication, LeBeau and his staff will do whatever is necessary to make sure his most experienced players see the field.

In addition, I would not blame the coaching staff for their desire to see the veteran cornerback stick around for the final season of his current contract. In fact, Allen and Gay are the only other cornerbacks on the roster who possess any extended professional experience. As expensive as he is to keep, I would certainly be timid about releasing a veteran like Taylor.

Although a pay cut or massive restructure would be in order, the lack of experienced depth at cornerback is still a cause for concern for the Steelers. Taylor would provide Pittsburgh with some insurance in case injuries struck at the position, and his knowledge of the defensive scheme is also an enormous plus.

In my humble opinion, Ike will likely be asked to take a hefty pay cut or have his contract restructured once again to have some of his current base salary allocated into future bonuses.

Whether or not Ike takes the pay cut is a different story altogether. What I am sure of is the fact that the market will not necessarily be booming for a soon to be 34-year-old cornerback with stone hands and declining skills if the front office elects to release Taylor.

Thus, if Ike wants to play in 2014, he will likely have to take a significant pay cut to stay in Pittsburgh or suit up for another franchise.

 

 

Stats & Contract Info. Provided By: ESPN.comSteelers.comSpotrac and Pro Football Reference

Follow on Twitter: @DominicDiTolla and @NicePickCowherC

Tags: 2014 Free Agency Featured Ike Taylor Pittsburgh Steelers Popular

  • Carl Eagan

    Brown although a special teams demon has failed every other time he’s been on the field. Remember he was projected ahead of Allen a couple of years ago and just couldn’t do it. Hopefully Greene turns out to be better.

    • Dom DiTolla

      Well that’s kind of the reason why the team will need to keep Taylor for one final season since LeBeau is staying: they have no quality depth, and even if they use one or more picks on cornerbacks, they likely won’t play.

      If LeBeau was gone then I’d be in favor of them dumping Taylor since the rookies would be thrown into the fire. Plus the money they’d save in cap space would allow them to sign a free agent or two to compete for playing time.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    WITH ALL THE NEGATIVES LISTED ABOVE WITH Ike TAYLOR, IT WOULD BE A CRIME TO BRING HIM BACK AS A PLAYER, LEBEAU OR NO LEBEAU AND IF LEBEAU DON’T GET HIS HEAD OUT OF HIS REAR IN REGARDS TO PLAYING OLD, SLOW, NON PRODUCTIVE PLAYERS THEN SOMEBODY IN PITTSBURGH BETTER GROW SOME AND SEND LEBEAU INTO RETIREMENT AND IF HE DON’T LIKE IT, FIRE HIS HARD HEADED A-S.

  • Mangler

    Ike and Ryan Clark should be cut; neither contributed too much last year, time to get younger, faster, hungrier players. But you are correct Dom, LeBeau won’t let them play. Kinda of a shame when Willie Gay is one of your better players (although he didn’t have a bad year last season.)

  • Dom DiTolla

    I think they should dump LeBeau and younger players need to see the field. Unfortunately, the status quo didn’t change during the offseason so Taylor will likely stay and play due to his experience and LeBeau sticking around.

    I don’t like it, but it is probably what will happen.

  • Carl Eagan

    Blaming LeBeau for all the old slow players is like blaming a campfire for global warming. Players have to beat out other players in practice and just like in the case of Heywood he didn’t do it until this year and that was with playing experience. Brown is a train wreck in defense and lets face it Green is a reject who has proved he couldn’t do it with somebody else. Cut Taylor and let a player like Gilbert take the field and get better on a weekly basis. What difference does it make with Tomlin on the sidelines the team isn’t going far. Ben wins despite Tomlin’s ineptitude and can put the Steeler’s in the play-offs if Rooney orders Tomlin to use the no-huddle close to the start of the season.

    • Dom DiTolla

      Really? Why should the defensive coordinator be absolved of blame for relegating his younger players to the bench and not having others develop? Keenan Lewis is a prime example of this and so is Jason Worilds and Cameron Heyward. Your disdain for Tomlin is pathetic.

      • Rikki Giaro

        Why is is wrong to criticize a head coach ? Tomlin is directly linked to the bad drafting, as well as the bad player decisions. Finally they give a first rounder playing time, and it is the one that should have not been playing. I just hope Jones spends a GREAT deal of time in the weight room this off season. Tomin is at fault for bringing in Bicknell, and we all saw Pouncey pay for it with a torn ACL. I don’t know about other Steelers fans, but something is very wrong when you are hoping for an 8-8 season.

        • Dom DiTolla

          I’ve criticized Tomlin a great deal on this site, it’s Carl idiocy when it comes to blaming Tomlin for things people like Haley, Colbert, LeBeau, etc. should be which I have a problem with.