There are a lot of needs for the Pittsburgh Steelers going into next season, but none are greater than the secondary. The Steelers are losing Ryan Clark this season and possibly Ike Taylor as well. Troy Polamalu looks as if this is his last ride in the Steel City. There is a youth movement in the secondary. It started by drafting Cortez Allen and Shamarko Thomas, and it ends this offseason through free agency and the draft.
Let’s get this out of the way, Ike Taylor needs to go. His play was horrendous last season and he is only getting older and slower. His salary is too much for his play, and when we are in desperate need for cap space to pay your replacement Cortez Allen, there just isn’t enough room for Ike. The first move this offseason regarding the cornerback position should be to but Ike Taylor.
Now on to Cortez Allen, he really didn’t play up to expectations. Going into his fourth season, this is a make or break season for him. Guess what recent Steeler cornerback broke out in their fourth season… Keenan Lewis. Don’t you wish we still would have him, the cornerback position would be set for years. Cortez Allen has had enough time in the system, watch for him to break out this season. Instead of going the Keenan Lewis route, pay Cortez this offseason. If you extend him before he breaks out, your getting a discount. Could you imagine the discount the Steelers would have gotten if they extended Keenan Lewis the season before he broke out? It would be a very smart move to extend Cortez now.
To the position opposite Cortez comes a draft pick. William Gay is more suited for the slot and has gotten burned when playing on the outside. I have said all offseason long that the Steelers should go cornerback in the first round, and Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State could be there waiting to be a steal in the draft. Cortez and Gilbert give the Steelers an excellent duo of cornerbacks for years to come, especially if they extend Cortez.
Kind of like the cornerback position, the safety position already has one of the safeties of the future in Shamarko Thomas. The kid was having a solid rookie season before he got hurt, and a full offseason with Carnell Lake should help him tremendously. To the free safety position, that could go two different ways. The first way that could go is to sign a top free agent safety, as it looks like there could be a couple of good ones out there in this years free agency. Jarius Byrd could be an option, but he may be expensive. The best option would probably be Louis Delmas. He has already been in for a visit and could be in for another one soon. He wouldn’t come as expensive as Byrd, but still with a hefty price tag. The second route this could go is to find one in the middle rounds of the draft. Tre Boston looks like a perfect fit, and he could be a steal in the fourth round if still available. There have been people speculating Ha-Ha Clinton Dix in the first round, but Im still out that a cornerback will be taken. Either way, the second safety position opposite Shamarko Thomas needs to be found this offseason, whether its a young, proven veteran or a draft pick filled with potential.
If the Steelers extend Cortez Allen this offseason, take a cornerback in the first round, and find a safety replacement for the future this offseason, Carnell Lake should have plenty to work with and the secondary position will be set for years to come.
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