PITTSBURGH -- Ike Taylor is among the Steelers veterans who probably have to take a pay cut to stay in Pittsburgh for another season.
Taylor’s base salary is $7 million in the final year of the four-year deal he signed in 2011, and the Steelers cannot justify paying him that for several reasons.
They have to shed significant salary this offseason because of the cap, and Taylor is no longer a No. 1 cornerback.
Heck, he might not even be a cornerback at this point of his career. Taylor hinted after the Steelers’ final game that a switch to safety could be in his future, and the move would make a ton of sense because of precedence and the Steelers’ need on the back end of their defense.
Two of the Steelers’ greatest cornerbacks moved to safety later in their career. One of them, Carnell Lake, happens to coach the Steelers' defensive backs and would be invaluable in helping Taylor make that transition.
Coach Mike Tomlin recently downplayed any notion that a move to safety is inevitable for Taylor.
But he did not rule it out either.
“Ike and I talk about that from time to time because a lot of guys that have played his position have extended their career in that manner, particularly guys that have the type of size he has,” Tomlin said. “Nothing has been discussed formally in any form or fashion.”
This time of year is when such discussions take place, and Tomlin figures to at least give the move significant thought.
Taylor just completed his 11th NFL season but he keeps himself in fantastic shape. That augers well for his decline coming gradually instead of drastically, and with starting free safety Ryan Clark unlikely to be re-signed, Taylor could be an option there.
He could serve as a bridge at the position assuming the Steelers take at least one safety in the 2014 NFL draft.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Taylor has the physicality to play safety as his 63 tackles in 2013 ranked fourth on the Steelers. The biggest change would be his need to see and read the entire field as a safety instead on just locking down on a receiver, something Taylor has done so well for so long.
Lake could certainly help him do that.
Taylor is well aware that Lake and Rod Woodson moved to safety during the latter part of their respective careers and he thinks he has the attributes to do the same.
“Size, speed, coverage ability. Just knowing football,” Taylor said when asked why he could play safety. “Right now I’m playing corner. We’ll see how they feel.”