Like Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor is not a free agent but, like Polamalu, he is another aging veteran entering the down slide of his career with a high cap number. The Steelers are likely to make some sort of move with Ike Taylor.
Capsule Profile of Taylor with the Steelers
There were not a lot of upsides to the 2003 season, but one of those was a rookie who looked really fast on kick returns. This rookie was Ike Taylor. While he didn’t break the starting line up in 2004, he did appear in 13 games. In 2005 that changed as Taylor not only broke the starting line up but began shadowing opposing teams top receivers. Despite a brief stint in Bill Cowher’s dog house in 2006, Taylor occupied that role for the next 9 seasons. Taylor’s interception was the game-changing moment for the Steelers in Super Bowl XL.
The Case for Keeping Ike Taylor
For starters, the Steelers cupboard at cornerback is not deep. William Gay provides excellent “bang for the buck” and played very, very well in 2013, but is not a shutdown corner. Cortez Allen disappointed early on but finished strong. Courtney Brown is a disappointment. The Steelers have little other depth waiting in the wings.
Taylor played well in 2013, but slowed a step, struggling against Calvin Johnson (ok, who wouldn’t struggle vs. Megatron) in the second quarter vs. Detroit.
- However, those struggles might have been a blessing. Once Taylor stopped shadowing the other team’s top receiver the defense improved.
Taylor clearly has something to contribute, be it as a corner or perhaps at safety.
The Case for Cutting Ike Taylor
Ike Taylor is scheduled to count just under 12 million against the Steelers salary cap. That’s a lot to pay a player, especially a cornerback who will be 34 by opening day and is showing signs of slowing a step. The cap money earmarked for Taylor could serve the team better with a younger player like Jason Worilds or even by extending the contract of Cameron Heyward.
If press reports are any indication, and they likely are, the Steelers are planning to make some sort of move with Taylor with an eye towards lowering his cap value. Taylor appears to be open to such a move, and is also open to the possibility of moving to safety.
Safety could be an interesting position for Taylor. The Steelers explored that option with Rod Woodson, declined, and the decision was one of Dan Rooney’s biggest regrets. However, Taylor is not Woodson. He’s never had a knack for coming down with the ball.
The Steelers will try to reach some agreement with Taylor. This is the right move. Can they be successful? The odds favor it, but it is no certain thing.
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