A collective sigh of relief was simultaneously exhaled from the Pittsburgh Steelers front office and fans alike today as Ike Taylor agreed tentatively to a four-year deal. Of course he can’t officially sign the contract until Friday, but priority one can be checked off of the Steelers to-do list come Friday morning.
Signing LaMarr Woodley to a long term deal that will free up an enormous amount of cap space, relieving him of a franchise tag that demands he be paid over $10 million dollars in 2011.
As the Steelers begin looking at how to clear space under the salary cap chances are good under the current circumstances that they will look to take a little of that space away with an additional cornerback.
Bryant McFadden proved to be a disappointment after the trade to bring him back to Pittsburgh, and William Gay is a restricted free agent, and quite honestly he has been the biggest disappointment the team has had in recent years.
Looking back at tape from the 2010 season there are several constants, and Gay was one of them. Unfortunately he was consistently bad. Starting experience aside, Gay has not played well in the Steelers coverage schemes, and often found himself beaten on the sidelines. It’s time to cut the chord.
The Steelers have never been a team to go out and sign super star players to big money deals, preferring to grow their own through the draft. This off-season will be no different. So with names like Nnamdi Asomugha, and Johnathan Joseph off the list who are the players that fit the mold for the black and gold?
Obviously what teams are able to do before Friday concerning their own free agents will make a major difference in the market, but come Friday morning their should be several names available that would upgrade the secondary for the right price.
One of them, assuming he is available is without a doubt Chris Carr.
Carr was like Velcro in 2009, sticking with anyone that lined up in the slot. The Ravens moved him outside last season, and he proved to be as advertised when put on an island in pass coverage.
Carr has all the physical tools with regards to speed, height, and of course the intangibles that come with being a cornerback in the NFL.
The Ravens have not only Carr, but also Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington looking at becoming unrestricted Friday. The chances are good that the Ravens will lose one, possibly two of these players, and Carr fits the mold the Steelers are looking for.
He’s strong, and has no problem sticking his nose in harm’s way in order to make a play against the run or the pass. With 66 tackles, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles in 2010, Carr has proven to be the physical player the Steelers need in the secondary.
Richard Marshall had 88 tackles, three interceptions, a sack, and a forced fumble in 2010.
He had 88 tackles and four interceptions in 2009. As a matter of fact in his five NFL seasons Marshall has had less than three interceptions and 80 tackles only once.
If nothing else he is consistent.
The 5’11”, 189 pound Marshall may very well be the most underrated and consistent of all the young defensive backs in the NFL, and he is as physical as he is consistent.
The Steelers may be able to get Marshall for the right price, and his signing would give 2011 third and fourth rounders Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen time to develop while taking over a nickel or dime back role.
Josh Wilson came to Baltimore in a trade last off-season and the speedy defensive back proved to be highway robbery as far as trades are concerned.
Wilson played mostly as a nickel back in Baltimore last season, but his speed and effective pass coverage ability make him worth looking at as an every down corner in the NFL.
Wilson who runs a legit 4.39 in the 40 with a 36.5-inch vertical, has improved immensely in each of his four seasons in the NFL since being a second round pick of the Seahawks in 2007.
With his speed, Wilson is a legitimate threat to return every interception for a touchdown.
If the Ravens happen to favor Carr or Washington over Wilson, and he hits the open market the Steelers should certainly be in the running for his services.
While the deal is highly unlikely to happen with Roger’s history of injuries, the talent is worth mentioning.
Rogers was the ninth overall pick in 2005, but has spent a lot of time on the rack, and his calf and hamstring issues last season only added to the list that includes two knee surgeries.
While his health has been an issue the talent and pedigree is certainly there. Rogers is not likely to get a big dollar deal because of his health history, and the Steelers could possibly get him on a shorter, incentive laden contract.
The price would have to far outweigh the risks involved for Rogers to end up in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers have struggled in pass coverage in recent years. Especially in the absence of Troy Polamalu, who has been sidelined with injury problems over the past two seasons.
While Pittsburgh hopes he can stay healthy for an entire season, recent years have shown that the reckless style Polamalu plays with is not conducive to him playing a 16 game regular season.
If the Steelers are going to have to play without him at all in 2011, they are going to need to improve their secondary, and any one of these players would be an instant upgrade.