Cornerback William Gay is one of the free agents that Kevin Colbert was talking about when he mentioned that the Steelers were not likely to sign any players before the March 13th deadline at 4pm. At this point the Steelers have enough quality cornerbacks on the roster that they can afford to let him leave regardless.
Will Gay did play better in 2011 so you have to give him credit; 61 Tackles & 2 Interceptions. That touchdown catch that Torrey Smith burnt him on though, in the Ravens game, still haunts Steelers fans and probably always will. He’s got a knack for getting after the Quarterback on corner blitzes as well, something he might be better known for than his coverage skills to some. Gay is a great teammate, very humble, and grateful for the chance to play for the Steelers. He’s not the type of guy that will stir the pot and be a distraction but in the end the Steelers have too many other options to warrant keeping him around, especially in such a tight salary cap year.
The Steelers spent 2 draft picks in 2011 to pick up Curtis Brown, Texas and Cortez Allen, Citadel. Both of those players were significant contributors on special teams, and Allen especially was taking on a bigger role in the defense for Dick Lebeau. In fact last year Lebeau said he was very comfortable with putting Allen on the field no matter what the situation. That says a lot about a rookie defensive back no matter who are. Both of these players could be future starters for the Steelers. Both players had injury problems in training camp that set them back but as the year went on they progressed nicely. Assuming both players can stay healthy I love the potential of both of them on defense and special teams.
They also have a restricted free agent in Keenan Lewis who clearly benefited from Carnell Lake coaching last year. After a rocky start to his career where he ended up being benched in the preseason, he has certainly come a long way. Lewis was the primary NB in 2011 and seems poised to take over Gay’s job next season, or at least compete for it with Brown and Allen. Signing Lewis to a 1 yr. deal or better yet locking him up long term should be a much higher priority than bringing back Will Gay. Lewis has good size, 6’0 208 lbs. with enough speed to hang with today’s fast wide receivers. A humble guy who’s will to give all the credit to his coaches and teammates, Lewis is someone to watch in 2012.
Let’s dispel any talk that Ike Taylor won’t be back with the Steelers. It doesn’t matter what they do with Gay, Lewis, Brown, or Allen, Ike Taylor is still beyond a doubt the best cornerback the Steelers have on their roster. He’s a workout machine who spends the entire offseason staying in shape with well know trainer Tom Shaw, so when training camp comes he’s long been ready to get started. Taylor can still play with the best receivers in the business, don’t let that wildcard game fool you. Even the best of the best have a bad game. You wish it wouldn’t have happened then but it doesn’t take away from his value to the Steelers.
I could very easily see a cornerback team of Ike Taylor, Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen, and Curtis Brown in 2012. Carnell Lake has proved he can turn players around in just 1 year so imagine how much better these players will be in year 2 under Lake.