Pittsburgh Steelers: Who's a Bigger Priority This Offseason, Woodley or Taylor?

Joseph BrunoCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2011

Pittsburgh Steelers: Who's a Bigger Priority This Offseason, Woodley or Taylor?

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  James Jones #89 of the Green Bay Packers tries to avoid the tackle of LaMarr Woodley #56 and Ike Taylor #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers and during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Ph
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 15:  Linebacker LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after recovering a fumble by the Baltimore Ravens in the third quarter of the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Penns
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    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

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  Ike Taylor #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the New York Jets during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers won 24-19. (Photo by Nick Laham/G
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    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

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers avoids being tackled by Bryant McFadden #20 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty I
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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

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    CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 02:  Defenders Larry Foote #50, Lawrence Timmons #94 and James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackle tailback Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (P
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    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

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  Jeff Cumberland #86 of the New York Jets is tackled by James Farrior #51 and LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    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

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Greg Jennings #85 of the Green Bay Packers catches a 31 yard pass in the fourth quarter against Ryan Clark #25 and Ike Taylor #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arli
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    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

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a sack against the New York Jets during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers won 24-19. (Photo
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    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

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 21:  Ike Taylor #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers lines up prior to the snap during the game against the Oakland Raiders on November 21, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    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

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    PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 27:  Ike Taylor #24 of the Pittsburgh Steelers gestures during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on December 27, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Pittsburgh won the game, 23-20.  (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Image
    Karl Walter/Getty Images

    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

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    PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12:  LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers returns an interception for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals during the game on December 12, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Get
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    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.