A few nuggets worth pointing out from this KDKA interview with Ike Taylor, the man that holds the key to the Steelers’ 2011 Super Bowl hopes and dreams.
“For sure I would love to retire as a Steeler,” Taylor told KDKA’s Jory Rand. “I ain’t just saying this to be saying this. Like I would love to retire (as a Steeler), but we’ll see how they feel about me. They know how I feel about the city of Pittsburgh. They know how I feel about the organization. We’ll see how they feel about me.”
Now it’s just a matter of the players and owners resolving this little issue of the CBA, and the Steelers can get on with free agency. (Along with 31 other teams, some in dire need of a quality cornerback … which also describes Pittsburgh.) I suspect Taylor’s the top priority although these things always come down to money. It’s a myth to say the Steelers are cheap; they’re not. They’ll loosen the velcro on the wallet, but they’re not the guy at the strip club who falls in love every weekend and every Monday morning heads to work once again broke — and broken hearted. (It’s a sad tale, especially if you have witnessed it first hand. Okay, it’s funny, too, but mostly sad.)
I don’t know what it will take to keep Taylor but something to keep in mind: he’s 31 and he could be willing to give the Steelers a hometown discount (this is complete conjecture, but given that Ike’s publicly — and repeatedly — said he wants to stay in Pittsburgh and that he loves Mr. Rooney, it’s a leap of faith I’m willing to make). What constitutes “hometown discount” is an entirely different matter.
“You can go down the line but at the same time I just want my market value. Whatever my market value is, I would like that,” Taylor told KDKA.
“I’m not trying to be greedy, but I feel like I’ve put in a good amount of work over the course of the past few years. Like I follow the receiver. Revis follows the best receiver every week. Stop. Revis and Cromartie follow 1 and 2 receivers. You got a lot of guys that don’t follow the best receivers. It’s cool to stay on one side, but a lot of guys don’t want that heat every down, every snap or I could get beat.”
All fair points. Which leads to this: how much is Ike worth for 3-5 more years of solid play? Because Kevin Colbert doesn’t put the roster together in a vacuum. For as much as we like to arm-wave about the impending doom that would accompany not re-signing this guy or that one, it has yet to happen when the Steelers opted to let a player sell his wares elsewhere. Rod Woodson, Joey Porter, Alan Faneca, and to lesser degrees, Chris Hope and Antwaan Randle El are all examples. Plus, there are other names to reinvest in. Like, say, Willie Colon (who will under no circumstances play guard).
Another comment from Ike that caught my attention:
“Well, really Mr. Colbert drafted me. So Mr. Colbert knows what time it is. He’s got a lot of power over there. I don’t know if he wants me to say that but I did. Mr. Colbert almost runs the show. They put a lot of trust into his decision making and what he thinks. Just by the draft, some of the picks they’ve been having over the years, Mr. Colbert’s been the GM, successful.”
This runs counter to the pre-draft report from NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora, who said that Tomlin handed down the edict for the front office to do whatever it takes to trade up and get Mike Pouncey should he fall into range (wherever that was). Obviously, it didn’t happen, presumably because the Dolphins took Pouncey 15th overall. But it also may have had something to do with Taylor’s comments — that Colbert wields a lot of power and just because Tomlin may like a player doesn’t mean Colbert’s job is to make it happen, no questions asked.
Whoever’s in charge, I’m guessing they understand what Ike means to the secondary. Losing him would make the Steelers worse, for sure, but I’m not willing to say that the 2011 season would be over before it started. Pittsburgh went 9-7 without Troy for most of 2009 and went 6-10 without Troy or Ike seeing much of the field in 2003.
Ike or not, the 2011 Steelers will be competitive. I’d just prefer not to have to live through it with William Gay and B-Mac as the starters. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.