In an interview on Tuesday, Steelers unrestricted free agent cornerback William Gay says he wants to stay in Pittsburgh. Our friend, Chuck Finder of CBS Sports tells us via his blog: Free-agent William Gay wants to remain a Steelers starting CB. “They expressed interest that they wanted me back, which is good because I want to stay,” Gay told TribLive Radio Tuesday. “I want to do everything that I can to stay and hopefully the Steelers are willing to do everything they can to keep me.”
Kevin Colbert talked previously this offseason that they were not going to make any moves on their unrestricted players to start free agency, and allow them to test the market. Given the cap situation now it’s unclear if they’ll be able to bring back Gay even if they want too. At this point though it seems clear that Gay is simply not a need on a team stacked with young talent at cornerback and trying to save money for draft picks and other depth moves forthcoming in the available pool of players.
With 3rd year player Keenan Lewis a restricted free agent receiving a draft round tender, and both Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown showing potential last year it’s going to be a crowded secondary next season as it is. If Carnell Lake, Dick Lebeau want to see what their young talent can do now is probably as good a time as any to let them battle it out. With Gay being unrestricted, they almost had to tender Lewis simply to make sure they had some experience at cornerback other than Ike Taylor. It’s unlikely that both Gay and Lewis will return if for no other reason than the financial factor alone.
Gay started opposite Ike Taylor in 2011 and had a solid year overall which should help his market value no matter where he lands up. He started in every regular season game except for week 1, and finished with 61 tackles, 13 passes defensed, and 2 interceptions.
As far as we know, he doesn’t have any visits scheduled with teams yet but that will change as all the big names go off the market in the early stages of free agency. Gay is certainly capable of helping any team looking for depth in their defensive backfield. Given the fact that he was a starter on a defense ranked #1 vs the pass last year, that’s a nice feather to have in his cap for potential suitors.
The Steelers have said this year, and as is their mantra in free agency every year, they want to sign their own players before going after outside talent. Perhaps Gay still figures into that equation but we shouldn’t be surprised if they decide to go in another direction.