- Scott Brown, ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter
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PITTSBURGH -- Ike Taylor is willing to move to safety to prolong his playing career. And the veteran cornerback stopped just short of saying he would take a pay cut to stay with the Steelers.
As for his future in Pittsburgh, Taylor put it best when he said in an interview with FOX Sports that, “I would love to retire as a Steeler but you just never know. Time will tell.”
Like defensive end Brett Keisel did earlier this week at the Super Bowl, Taylor said he still believes he has some good years left in an NFL career that really gained traction in 2005 when the former fourth-round draft pick capped a superb season with an interception that helped the Steelers beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.
But Taylor is also facing a similar reality as Keisel if he wants to continue his career in Pittsburgh.
Taylor is due a base salary of $7 million in 2014, and the 11th-year veteran has an enormous cap hit ($11.94 million) due to the contract restructures that turned salary into signing bonus money.
He will have to accept a pay cut to return to the Steelers and a couple of things Taylor said on Thursday make it seem like he is open to one.
Taylor is well aware that age -- he turns 34 in May -- and the Steelers' salary-cap situation will shape upcoming discussions between the organization and his agent, Joel Segal. And he said he won't let pride get in the way of decisions he has to make regarding his future.
“You've got to understand it's a business,” Taylor said. “You've got to understand as a business it will always be a young man's sport and I understand that.”
One of the Steelers' top priorities this offseason is getting younger in the secondary, and Taylor's play slipped enough last season that near the end of it defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau stopped flipping his cornerbacks so Taylor could shadow marquee wide receivers.
But if the Steelers don't bring Taylor back for another season they will go into the 2014 season with Cortez Allen and William Gay as their starting cornerbacks. And there is no experienced depth behind them unless the Steelers sign a free-agent cornerback.
The Steelers are going to draft at least one cornerback early, and Taylor would give them the luxury of not having to depend on rookie cornerbacks next season while also helping those players adjust to the NFL.
As for playing safety, the Steelers have not given any indication that Taylor could move to the back end of their defense. But he is serious enough about doing it that he has talked with Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake and Rod Woodson about what such a transition would entail.
Lake and Woodson each played cornerback and safety during their respective NFL careers.
“I want to play football so if they ask me (to play safety) I'm doing it regardless,” Taylor said.