Pittsburgh Steelers: Who's a Bigger Priority This Offseason, Woodley or Taylor?
Now that the season has come to a bitter end, it is time for each team to look towards next year.
Like every team, the Steelers have problems they need to address and key free agents to sign this offseason.
The two big free agents for the Steelers are obviously linebacker Lamar Woodley and cornerback Ike Taylor.
Who is the bigger priority though? Who should get more of the focus this offseason from the Steelers?
In this article, I will build a case for and against both of these guys.
For Lamar: Age
Lamar is one of the best and youngest players on the best defense in the NFL.
He is only 26 years old and is already one of the best all around linebackers in the league, with the ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage.
Against Ike: Age
Ike is 30 years old and in his eighth season with the Steelers.
The Steelers are trying to get younger and more athletic at each position on the defense.
For Ike: Depth
If Ike is not re-signed, the only cornerbacks on the roster will be Bryant McFadden, Crezdon Butler and Keenan Lewis.
McFadden should only be a No. 2 corner and both Butler and Lewis have not proved anything on the field to this point in their careers.
Against Lamar: Depth
The Steelers have one of the best linebacking corps in the league, with or without Lamar Woodley.
We would still have three starters in James Harrison, James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons, with young backups in Jason Worilds and Stevenson Sylvestor and veteran Larry Foote.
For Lamar: Clutch
Lamar has not only been great in his regular season career—39 sacks in four seasons—but he has also been great in the postseason.
Woodley has had a sack in each of his first seven playoff games, a NFL record, and has 11 career sacks in total in the postseason.
Against Ike: Clutch
Ike did have an interception in the Steelers' Super Bowl win against Seattle, however, he has done little otherwise.
In the two Super Bowls since, the Steelers have been torched through the air, not all Ike's fault, yet he has certainly not been looking his guy down either.
For Lamar: Interest
As stated earlier, Lamar Woodley is one of the best young linebackers in the league right now.
This means that other teams will be knocking down doors to try and get him to sign with them this offseason.
Against Ike: Interest
Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that Ike is not going to receive any offers at all in free agency this offseason.
There will just not be the feeding frenzy that Lamar is going to generate as soon as he hits the market.
For and Against Ike: Loyalty
I have heard that Ike will not even seriously consider or entertain offers from other teams this offseason.
This is great for the Steelers and great to see this type of loyalty from Ike, though this does make him less of a priority.
Answer? Lamar Woodley
It is pretty obvious to me that Lamar Woodley should be the Steelers' top priority this offseason.
The combination of his age and production, coupled with the clamoring from other teams that will ensue? Lamar is the clear choice.
This is nothing against Ike Taylor at all and the Steelers should make sure they sign both of these guys.
Honestly, I think the Steelers are just going to franchise Lamar anyway to give themselves more time to sign him and he has come out publicly saying he wouldn't be opposed to that happening.