Monday, March 10, 2014
Ike Taylor, Steelers a natural fit
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH -- It made sense for the Steelers and Ike Taylor to get a deal done that will work for both sides.
The Steelers could not afford to lose a cornerback --- even one whose best days are behind him -- and Taylor did not want to finish his career anywhere else.
Presto, the contract that saves the Steelers $4.25 million in salary-cap money this year and allows Taylor to play his entire career in Pittsburgh, one that started after the Steelers unearthed a project out of Louisiana-Lafayette in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL draft.
It's tempting to wonder where Taylor would rank among the all-time Steelers' defensive backs -- and how many Pro Bowls he would have made -- had his hands cooperated as much as his coverage skills did while shadowing opponents' wide receivers.
Even with only 14 career interceptions in 11 regular seasons -- and let us not forget the pick against the Seahawks that helped Pittsburgh win Super Bowl XL -- Taylor's place in Steelers history is secure.
And he is not quite done yet.
A source told ESPN.com that Taylor had no interest in leaving the Steelers and that he wanted to do whatever he could to stay with the organization and help it return to Super Bowl contender status following back-to-back 8-8 seasons.
Hence the pay cut that satisfies both sides.
It is no secret that Taylor has an incredibly close relationship with chairman emeritus Dan Rooney, who is on a short list of candidates for a Steelers Mount Rushmore.
But his new contract is more a product of practicality than nostalgia, and Taylor gets one more season to add to his Steelers legacy -- while also serving as a bridge to the cornerbacks it is incumbent upon Pittsburgh to sign or draft.