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Pittsburgh Steelers: In-House Cornerback Replacements If William Gay Leaves

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08:  William Gay #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates with teammates James Harrison #92 and Cameron Heyward #97 following his interception in the endzone in the second half against the Cleveland Browns during the game on December 8, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Chris GazzeCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2012

The Pittsburgh Steelers have more free agents than just Mike Wallace, and one of them is on the verge of making a decision on where he will play next year.

William Gay, Pittsburgh's starting cornerback last season, announced via Twitter that he will choosing between four teams.

Done with all the visits now its time to decide where I'm going to play next year

— william gay (@williamgay22), March 21, 2012

Pitt,Denver,Arizona, and Tennessee..Great places to play for but I can only chose one!!!! Blessing from GOD sure he will show me da way

— william gay (@williamgay22), March 22, 2012

Gay will have an opportunity to make an impact with the Broncos, Cardinals or Titans, but he will be most familiar with the Cardinals' defense where former Steelers' defensive back coach Ray Horton is the defensive coordinator.

Pittsburgh's fifth-round selection in the 2007 draft, Gay started in 37 of the 80 games he played for the Steelers, with 15 of those starts coming last season as a member of the league's top-ranked pass defense.

Gay accumulated 247 tackles, 43 pass defenses and three interceptions in his five years in the league. He had a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the 2011 AFC Championship game which helped send the Steelers to Super Bowl 45.

One of Gay's underrated traits was his ability to blitz. He was dangerous blitzing from the nickel spot, though he only had three sacks in his career.

Despite his success last year, Gay was often criticized for struggling in coverage and had the unfortunate event of getting run over by Adrian Peterson in 2009.

If Gay leaves the Steelers, they will be losing a dependable veteran option who has the ability to start, but is best when in the nickel role.

Pittsburgh has alternatives if he chooses to sign elsewhere with a number of young options who have all shown potential.

Keenan Lewis, a restricted free agent, began to live up to his potential last year as he quietly had a good season and profiles as a solid No. 2 cornerback behind Ike Taylor.

Lewis had 37 tackles in 2011 with six pass defenses and one interception. Though he allowed a lot of completions, Lewis was almost always in position and rarely got beat deep.

Second-year cornerbacks Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen are also good candidates to have increased roles next season.

Brown struggled with injuries as a rookie, but the coaching staff likes his potential and he was drafted to eventually develop into a starter.

Most of Brown's contributions came on special teams and his role should expand to the defense this year. He has all of the tools necessary to be a starter and at the very least he will get time on passing downs this year.

Allen was very raw coming out of college, but has a number of physical attributes that could make him a special player.

Unlike Brown, Allen was able to make noise beyond just special teams. He was a camp surprise and showed a lot of promise that helped earn him time on the field in passing situations. Assuming his progress continues, the sky is the limit for Allen.

Regardless of what the decision Gay makes, Pittsburgh is in good shape with their young talent at cornerback. They will just have more depth if he decides to stay.

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisG_FC

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