Taylor top priority
Free Agency negotiations are set to begin at 10:00 a.m. this morning and it will have an NBA feel as teams can reach agreements with players but can’t sign until Friday at 6:00 p.m.
The Steelers have 14 unrestricted free agents including: Willie Colon, OT; Nick Eason, DE; Trai Essex, G; Keyaron Fox, LB; William Gay, DB; Chris Hoke, NT;
Anthony Madison, DB; Mewelde Moore, RB; Jonathan Scott, OT; Daniel Sepulveda, P; Matt Spaeth, TE; Shaun Suisham, K; Ike Taylor, DB and Greg Warren, LS.
Everyone except Keyaron Fox are believed to be players the Steelers have some level of interest in retaining.
Top needs for the Steelers are said to be CB, RT and a veteran third down back. That could include Mewelde Moore or an outside option such as Altanta’s Jason Snelling who is on the team’s radar..
The team also needs to add depth at tight end, defensive tackle and sign a kicker and punter.
Talk in team headquarters is that DT Chris Hoke and K Shaun Suisham will be resigned. The team would like to retain Matt Spaeth but it’s going to depend on the price.
Onto the top priorities:
While all eyes are Ike Taylor, figuring out the right tackle position is also extremely important.
The Steelers have a unique opportunity in that 28 year old tackle Willie Colon wants to return to Pittsburgh in the worst way. It’s just not clear yet whether the Steelers will go “all in” to accommodate Colon.
The Steelers and Colon expect to find out pretty early into the process whether something can get done as Colon dictates Flozell Adams future with the team.
Despite coming off injury, some around the league believe interest will be extremely high in Colon.
Jonathan Scott is also in the mix. The Steelers held preliminary talks with agent Jordan Woy prior to the lockout and it’s believed the Steelers would like to retain Scott for depth reasons.
At the cornerback position, just like Willie Colon, William Gay wants to return to Pittsburgh in the worst way.
The Ike Taylor situation is simple: Agent Joel Segal will actively shop his services around today and then Ike will give the Steelers an opportunity to match or come close.
Whether Taylor returns is going to be dictated by the market. The Steelers are confident in retaining him while Segal when reached for comment is laughing at the assumption from the local media that Ike’s a lock to return, based off the numbers the Steelers were floating around prior to the lockout and a strong market Segal is expecting.
Taylor’s camp believes Ike will be in line for $7-to-$8 million per season with guaranteed money pushing $12+ million. If that ends ups being the case, he won’t be a Steeler.
However, It remains to be seen whether that type of money will be out there with Nnamdi Asomugha, Jonathan Joseph and even Antonio Cromartie among the most attractive options at the cornerback position. Chances remain good that he resigns.
Teams high on Taylor include the Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Bucs and Baltimore Ravens. The Philadelphia Eagles also like Taylor but may address their cornerback position through a Kevin Kolb trade to Arizona.
If the Steelers don’t retain Taylor, many are not expecting the Steelers to make a splash.
One official predicted the Steelers going in the direction of William Gay and Baltimore’s Chris Carr who they pursued in 2008 as a short-term fix, if Taylor doesn’t return.
One name to keep an eye on is 26 year old cornerback Richard Marshall, of the Carolina Panthers. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder is regarded by scouts as one of the most under-rated players on the market.
He is very durable, appearing in all 80 games during his five year career.
Marshall had 88 tackles and 3 Interceptions last season. In his career he has 13 interceptions and has 7 interceptions combined in his last two seasons.
I wouldn’t be against the Steelers going in a younger direction by any means.