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fordfixer
07-04-2010, 08:26 AM
Taylor could earn lucrative payday with big season
By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, July 4, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 88896.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_688896.html)

Whenever cornerback Ike Taylor contemplates his NFL future, he envisions finishing his career with the Steelers.

"Deep down in my heart," Taylor said, "I want to retire as a Steeler."

However, as the team's only defensive starter eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, Taylor, 30, could put himself in line to receive a big free-agent payoff. And that might be too rich for the Steelers, who have yet to offer a contract extension.

"I've been here seven years," said Taylor, the only active starting cornerback in the league to win two Super Bowls. "I'm a Steeler all the way. But it's on them if we can agree be on the same page. If not, I've gotta move on."

Taylor will not be a holdout when training camp opens July 30. Some players use the threat of holding out as a bargaining chip during negotiations, but Taylor who restructured his contract the previous two offseasons to allow the Steelers to sign Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison and running back Rashard Mendenhall will report with his teammates.

"Ike is going to honor his contract," said Herman Francois, Taylor's uncle with whom he went to live with in ninth grade. "That's the way he's been taught. He's going to come to work."

Francois acknowledges, however, that the possibility of becoming a free agent appeals to Taylor.

"This is why you play (pro) football, to have this opportunity to see what the market looks like," said Francois, who runs Taylor's camp. "People are thinking that life is over (if Taylor doesn't re-sign with the Steelers), but it's not.''

Taylor is entering the final year of a $23.75 million contract extension (including $15.5 million over the first three years) that he signed in September 2006. Those numbers pale in comparison to the free-agent deal awarded in March to unrestricted free-agent cornerback Dunta Robinson: six years, $57 million.

A year ago, free-agent corners Dominique Foxworth, Ronald Bartell and Jabari Greer signed multi-year deals for $27.2 million, $25 million and $22 million, respectively.

"There's going to be a lucrative market for somebody like Ike Taylor when you see how much corners get paid when they become free agents," said Mike Triplett, who covers the Saints for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Triplett realized how highly teams value free-agent cornerbacks when New Orleans was shopping for one last offseason. The Saints signed Greer after Bartell opted to remain with St. Louis.

"There were guys you never heard of making five years, $27 million, and they weren't even close to being Pro Bowlers," Triplett said. "It was nuts.''

Saints Coach Sean Payton said teams are reluctant to lose top cornerbacks to free agency because there aren't many of them available.

"It's a position that's hard to find in free agency," Payton said in April.

It remains to be seen if the Steelers value Taylor enough to offer him a new contract.

In his career, Taylor has tallied nine interceptions, 88 passes defended and 415 tackles. He established a franchise record by grabbing interceptions in three consecutive playoff games, his biggest occurring against Seattle in Super Bowl XL, and he has never missed a game due to injury.

Since becoming a starter in 2005, Taylor is the only Steelers cornerback who's proven to be big and fast enough to shadow one receiver for an entire game. Taylor has neutralized Cincinnati's Chad Ochocinco, a former team nemesis. Last year, Taylor was directly responsible for allowing one touchdown catch on his side of the field.

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau stopped short of calling Taylor irreplaceable. But LeBeau, a former cornerback who will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month, holds Taylor in high esteem.

"I believe Ike to be the best tackling corner in the league," LeBeau said. "Over a period of seven years, Ike will grade out with any corner that's playing. If I had my pick, I'd take Ike because he's always going to tackle, he's always going to be in shape, and he's never going to do anything that's contrary to the team concept. His pluses are inordinately larger than any minuses.

"I know Ike wants to be here. And I would think that ownership would want the same thing. We would miss him if he were not here."

Agent Joel Segal wouldn't comment about the status of negotiations, but Taylor said he expects talks will intensify when the Steelers are ready.

"They move at their own pace," Taylor said. "There ain't no forcing them. They've been doing it for years, so why change now? I respect that."

Per team policy, Steelers management doesn't comment on the contract status of players.

Francois, who speaks daily with Taylor, believes his nephew has a good chance of re-signing with the Steelers because of his history with the organization.

Taylor's nickname? Little Rooney, which references his close relationship with Steelers owner Dan Rooney.

"Yeah, it's a business," Francois said, "but I see them sitting at the table like a family, talking and working it out."

Taylor sees himself in an enviable position.

He can remain with the Steelers, the team that took a chance on him in the fourth round of the 2003 draft and developed him. Or, upon becoming a free agent, he can live every NFL player's dream and attempt to break the bank.

"This is where I want to be, but it's on them," Taylor said. "Either they want me around, or they don't want me around."

SteelCrazy
07-04-2010, 08:50 AM
Say what you will, but Ike is one less thing to worry about on game day. Can't catch, but that's why he plays defense.

StarSpangledSteeler
07-04-2010, 01:55 PM
Taylor is a perfect fit for the Steelers. True we would all love if he could catch, but if he could:
(a) He would've been a receiver (Mike Wallace type) instead of a cornerback.
(b) We would not be able to afford him.

Ike is one of the best tackling CB's in the NFL. That not only applies to the running game, but the passing game as well, limiting RAC yards those big physical WR's (Fitzgerald, etc). He has gained enough experience now to where he doesn't get beat often on the double moves and if he does he still has the speed to recover. His skills are not diminishing. We need to re-sign him.

hawaiiansteel
07-04-2010, 03:28 PM
if our young CBs like Keenan Lewis, Joe Burnett and Crezdon Butler continue to develop and Bryant McFadden and Willie Gay return to their previous form then that may very well make Ike Taylor expendable.

free agent CBs get offered a lot of money, i just don't see the Steelers breaking the bank for Ike "Hands of Stone" Taylor if we have other options on our roster.

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
07-04-2010, 11:46 PM
If he could catch just a little bit then he would be talked about with the likes of Assoumwagh (sp?), Bailey, and Revis.

bostonsteeler
07-05-2010, 09:18 PM
Ike's a good dependable CB. Plus, he's a very high character guy.
We should keep here.

flippy
07-06-2010, 11:46 AM
Ike doesn't have value outside of Pittsburgh imho.

proudpittsburgher
07-06-2010, 12:08 PM
Ike doesn't have value outside of Pittsburgh imho.

I am afraid we will likely find out. There is always a stupid owner out there with deep pockets who overpays for a talent, i.e. Randel El with the skins. I get he feeling that Ike is going to get an offer he can't and shouldn't refuse, and the Steelers won't and shouldn't match. I like Ike as a Steeler and he seems to be a good character guy, but someone will overpay for him.

steelblood
07-06-2010, 02:19 PM
This will be tough negotiation because he is going to be 31 next season. Corner's skill often drop off quickly. Overpaying Ike could be a huge mistake if the cap comes back. We have too many 30+ dudes already under contract on D imho.