Soon after the Pittsburgh Steelers season ended, I examined how they may be forced to part ways with cornerback Ike Taylor, as the 33-year-old would likely become a salary-cap casualty.
As the weeks pass, that appears more likely to happen.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette addressed Taylor’s future with the team during a recent mailbag.
According to Dulac: ”[T]he best Ike can hope for is to be offered — and for him to accept — a big pay cut.”
Taylor is set to make $7 million in 2014 and carries a cap figure of $11.9 million. The Steelers could free up $7 million in cap space by releasing him outright, and given their current financial situation, it seems like this is almost too much to pass up.
Given the fact that the Steelers are likely to be a little over $10 million over the cap and have players such as Jason Worilds and Emmanuel Sanders as unrestricted free agents, the team has to free up money somehow. They also have holes to fill all over the field and need as much money available as possible.
That’s not to mention the fact that it is time to turn the page on many of the veterans of this Steelers defense, as they simply can’t prolong getting younger.
Taylor used to be a major weapon in the Steelers defense as a shutdown corner, but he regressed dramatically during the 2013 season. Things were so bad for Taylor that he graded out as one of the worst corners in the NFL, as he was rated as the No. 97 cornerback out of out of 110 qualifying players in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Some corners who begin to slow down because of age have had success moving to safety for a few years. Former Steelers corner Rod Woodson comes to mind as one who successfully made the transition. That won’t happen to Taylor as he is nowhere near physical enough to play the position and isn’t a very good tackler.
It was almost a certainty that the Steelers would target a corner in the early rounds of the draft and possibly target a cheap veteran corner, as even with Taylor in the fold, the Steelers have no depth at the position.
If Taylor elects not to accept a major pay cut, it will be interesting to see how the Steelers approach free agency and the draft as they almost will have to look to add up to three corners heading into camp.
The identity of the Steelers defense needs to change and things could start by letting go of Taylor.