As the Pittsburgh Steelers look towards their 2016 free agent class, very few of those soon to be Steelers free agents fall into the category of “Steelers must resign him.” Then there is cornerback William Gay.
William Gay is one free agent whom the Steelers must absolutely resign.
Capsule Profile of William Gay’s Career with the Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted William Gay in the 7th round of the 2007 NFL Draft, making him the first defensive back picked of the Mike Tomlin era. Gay saw spot duty in the Steelers secondary as a rookie while playing on special teams. In 2008 William Gay started 4 games and effectively split time with co-starters Deshea Townsend and Bryant McFadden.
- William Gay’s play in 2008 was strong enough for the Steelers to let Bryant McFadden go to Pittsburgh West, aka the Arizona Cardinals.
That decision led to some buyer’s remorse on the part of the Steelers, as William Gay, along with the rest of the Steelers secondary, struggled in the absence of Troy Polamalu who was injured for much of the season. During the 2010 NFL Draft, the Steelers got Bryant McFadden back who reclaimed the starting role.
- Gay however saw extensive work in the slot, where he began to make a name for himself.
William Gay led the Steelers in passes defensed, showed he could sack the quarterback on occasion, and scooped up a forced fumble during the AFC Championship game vs. the Jets, which turned out to be the final points the Steelers scored in the game.
William Gay didn’t stay in Arizona long. The Cardinals cut him in 2013, and the Steelers almost immediately resigned William Gay, and they’ve seen a lot of this since then:
William Gay has returned 5 of his six interceptions for touchdowns, and found otherwise to justify the moniker of “Big Play Willie Gay.”
The Case for Steelers Keeping William Gay
2015 was the year of the Steelers accidental secondary. William Gay should serve as a lesson to anyone who argues “There’s a reason why no one else wanted him.” The Steelers signed Gay for a song, and he’s given them an orchestra worth of plays.
- The Steelers secondary is their glaring weak link heading into the 2016 offense, and William Gay is their only proven cornerback.
The Steelers not only need to resign William Gay, they should do so before he hits the free agent market.
The Case Against Steelers Keeping William Gay
Making the case against a third contract for William Gay is a tough task, but there are merits to the argument.
One would be that William Gay is turning 31 this year, the same age that Ike Taylor was when he signed his third contract with the Steelers. Taylor performed well during the first two years of the deal, then performance dropped precipitously.
Curtain’s Call on Steelers and William Gay
It is not a case of the Pittsburgh Steelers wanting to resign William Gay it is a case of the Steelers needing to resign William Gay. 2015 second round pick Senquez Golson might turn out to be a star. Or he could be like Kris Farris, who missed his rookie year like Golson and didn’t even make the team his rookie year.
- Likewise, there’s talk that the Steelers might give Cortez Allen another shot.
In contrast, William Gay is a proven playmaker, and Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin must find a way to keep him in Pittsburgh.