Letting both Ike Taylor and William Gay leave would make absolutely zero sense, more specifically letting Ike Taylor go would make zero sense. There's talk around the social networking circles that the Steelers could lose both Gay and Taylor to Arizona. Or that Gay could go to Arizona and Taylor somewhere else.
The state of the secondary, specifically at corner, is one that the Steelers are not going to let 2 cornerbacks both leave the team when the lockout lifts if they can possibly help it. Given the fact that McFadden has not been the same since he left for Arizona a couple years ago and now came back, and the only depth left to speak of after that would be rookies Cortez Allen, Curtis Brown, unproven Keenan Lewis and Anthony Madison, and 2nd year man Crezdon Butler. More on that in a moment.
If this were a typical offseason, and these moves would have happened before the draft, then sure maybe you could see this as a positive move. Coach Tomlin would have time to work with his young group in OTA's, and possibly alter their draft plans accordingly. However the truncated time frame for signing players will mean that teams will be more apt to overpay for a player in order to ensure their teams potential success. The Rooney's won't break the bank for a player they don't believe in; but in this case they believe in Ike and probably think enough of Gay to keep around as well (atleast through training camp).
Nobody is suggesting that William Gay is the caliber of corner that Ike Taylor is, nor are we saying that Ike is the best corner available right now. He is though just a notch below the former Raider Nnamdi Asomougha. Some would argue he's just as good, but we've covered that already as has everybody else and their brother.
The point is, it's not like the Steelers have that many realistic options just waiting to take the field in replacement of the aforementioned Taylor and Gay. Losing Gay would not break many fans hearts and would be a significantly less blow than losing Taylor. I firmly believe that Curtis Brown can be a starter within a couple years, and Cortez Allen is a great special teamer with a lot of potential. I love the potential of Crezdon Butler, I can see a scenario with him at NB in 2011 or possibly winning the starting job. Keenan Lewis hasn't shown anything to give us an indication that he's ready to step up to the plate. Right now though, is it a good idea to pin the hopes of the secondary on all these unknowns without Ike Taylor there to atleast hold down the fort on one side of the field? Or go out and try and find atleast 1 more starter in the short amount of time there will be to sign players before the season starts?
The answer to both questions is no. Will Gay would/will get some attention but nobody is going to break the bank on him. Taylor though will have no problem finding suitors. Rumors have him linked with the Eagles and Cardinals recently. Arizona has many ties to Pittsburgh including newly hired defensive coordinator Ray Horton, former Steelers DB coach. I'm sure Ray would love to see Ike come to Arizona, but lets not count our chickens, or cardinals, before they are hatched. Everything is speculation right now, everything.
The Rooney's will not allow their team to end up in such a vulnerable position without a good plan in place. With so much veteran talent looking to get another Super Bowl championship soon guys like James Farrior, Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith for example don't have many years left. Putting yourself in a full on rebuilding mode at cornerback is not necessary right now. Art Rooney II is not afraid to open the checkbook to sign a quality veteran. This Steelers team is primed at another shot at a title, they know it and so does everyone else.
Best case scenario, bring Ike Taylor back. Bring Will Gay back. Let Taylor assume his position and have an open competition at the other cornerback spot and let the best man win. Realistically, they will probably lose one and if that's the case the obvious choice is to keep Taylor. I could see a scenario with Taylor and Butler at the Cornerbacks, and Curtis Brown or Will Gay at NB. Cortez Allen playing mostly special teams and coming in if needed.
As far as Ike's actions and recent statements to the media, what do you expect him to say? Oh sure, I'll take less money, I'll cut my own throat and checkbook! He's keeping his options open and letting everyone know that he loved his time in Pittsburgh but this is a business and he needs to take care of himself as much as possible. We'd all like to see everyone be all nice and "steeler like" to the media, but the fact is the Rooney's aren't going to ostracize Ike just because he's talking to the media.
In the end it will all work out, it always does. Just don't believe everything you hear whenever a high profile Steeler free agent doesn't say what everybody thinks they should. More importantly don't think for one second that the Rooney's will let their team end up in a bad spot with so much talent on the roster.