Late Monday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers inked a new deal with veteran corner Ike Taylor. Swaggin U appeared pretty happy about it as he went to Twitter with the announcement.
The Steelers were poised to offer Taylor a hefty pay cut to stay with the Steelers in 2014 or hand him his walking papers. Taylor’s cap hit was a very bloated $11+ million; money the Steelers desperately need as they need the space to even have a chance to compete in the free agency market. Per Jason La Canfora on Twitter, the Steelers lopped off the majority of Taylor’s base salary.
Ike Taylor’s new deal with the Steelers is 1yr, $2.75M. Big pay cut, but he would have been released into this flooded market otherwise
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 11, 2014
That’s $4.25 million in savings from what his base salary was supposed to be for the 2014 season. That quite a cut to take for a veteran like Taylor, but it’s apparent where his loyalties lay as the ink dried on the newly drawn up agreement – using all caps such as ROONEYS and LEBEAU in his tweet. Taylor will play one more season with the Steelers and more than likely retire at that point if he expects to “retire a Steeler.”
So what does this mean for the Steelers and the secondary next season? Taylor’s signing does not necessarily guarantee him the #1 spot at corner, as mentioned by Behind the Steel Curtain writer Neal Coolong as we went back and forth on Twitter over the signing. I’m on the fence about this signing, but Taylor does at least guarantee depth at the corner position for 2014.
Taylor was nearly a shell of himself last season. He did get better during the last month or so of the season, but that was after Dick LeBeau moved him off of covering a team’s #1 wide receiver. Taylor and Cortez could swap spots with Allen taking up the challenge of covering the best of the best. But, there is still the strong possibility that the Steelers make a large play for a free agent corner. Alterraun Verner has stirred up interest from numerous teams, though there are ripples out in the Twitt’o’sphere that he is very interested in what the Pats will have to offer him.
If the Steelers can land Verner or another younger and capable corner, a few things are in place. They will potentially will have Allen, Taylor, Gay, and acquired FA as the top four corners. Any combo of Allen, Taylor, and FA would work well for the Steelers while forcing Gay to stay in nickel and dime packages (where he works best anyways). This also takes pressure off of the Steelers to draft a corner early in the draft when we all know that they are trying to target a tall wide out for Ben Roethlisberger. Remember, they only get Taylor for one more season, so they can’t completely ignore the free agent market or the draft at the corner position.
Was Taylor’s signing a good one? A necessary evil?