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Old 08-04-2006, 05:37 AM   #1
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Default Ike Taylor Presents Dilemma

Taylor presents dilemma

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, August 4, 2006


Ike Taylor won't allow a contract impasse to divert his eyes from the prize -- the prize being a recognized spot among the NFL's elite cover men.
Taylor took a large step in that direction last season, his first as a full-time starter.

"I want to be one of the guys that people talk about," Taylor says. "You know, 'Ike Taylor, he's come a long ways, so now we can put him down as a shut-down, lock-down corner.' I still got question marks out there, like, 'Can he do it?' I'm trying to answer all those question marks.' "

So are the Steelers, who, like a defensive back breaking on a ball, face a critical decision in negotiations with Taylor:


Should they go for broke or hang back and wait?

Taylor, 26, can become an unrestricted free agent after this season. He is currently on a one-year, $1.57 million deal he signed as a restricted free agent. By offering him an upgraded tender, the Steelers made it so another team would have had to offer a first-round draft pick as compensation for signing Taylor.

According to Taylor's agent, Scott Smith, the sides have been discussing a long-term deal that would keep Taylor in Pittsburgh through the prime years of his career.

Not surprisingly, the sticking point is money.

Taylor is believed to be seeking an eight-figure signing bonus, which is no surprise. Cornerbacks -- even ones who haven't played in any Pro Bowls -- often command big money.

Case in point: The Jacksonville Jaguars gave Brian Williams a $10 million signing bonus to lure him away from the Minnesota Vikings.

Last year, the Dallas Cowboys lavished Anthony Henry with a $10 million signing bonus, and Carolina gave rising star Ken Lucas a shockingly high $13 million signing bonus.

Now you know what kind of neighborhood Taylor is eyeing.

Smith declined comment when asked if Taylor is indeed seeking an eight-figure signing bonus, but the agent's response to another question was telling.

Does he believe Taylor already is one of the league's elite corners?

"Without question," Smith said. "Ike led the NFL in passes defended, with 25. In 20 games, he kept the opposing team's top wide receiver out of the end zone in 18, including all four playoff games. He did exactly what you'd expect from your left cornerback, which is to shut down the opposing team's top receiver.

"He's also arguably the toughest (cornerback) in the entire league against the run. He had 95 tackles, most for a Steelers corner in 13 years -- since Rod Woodson in '93."

Good points all. Taylor was so good he prompted the Steelers to alter their policy and allow him to follow certain receivers -- Chad Johnson, Marvin Harrison, etc. -- all over the field. He had two postseason interceptions.

On the other hand, he had only one regular-season interception and dropped about 10 others. He was helped by the superior talent around him, and Seattle picked on him early in the Super Bowl, though Taylor responded with a critical late-game pick.

So, do you show him the money, betting he'll continue his meteoric rise from fourth-round reach out of Louisiana-Lafayette? Or, do you make him prove himself again and risk the significant blow of losing him on the open market?

To his credit, Taylor rejected the option of a Hines Ward-style holdout. He arrived at camp in prime condition, focused only on football. He'd begun his workouts four days after the Super Bowl.

"No question, I want to stay here, but you know how that is," he said. "I'm in training camp right now, so I can't worry about anything. I let my agents and the office take care of that. I'm just glad to be playing football right now."

Another consideration for the Steelers is that in their hierarchical salary structure, signing Taylor will set the bar for other defensive players. Troy Polamalu, for example, has a contract that expires after next season, and he's already an All-Pro. Whatever the Steelers give Taylor, they'll need to give Polamalu more.

In the meantime, the Steelers have another promising young cornerback in Bryant McFadden and are hoping the light goes on for third-year pro Ricardo Colclough the way it went on for Taylor last season.

It'd be a shame to lose a player the Steelers wisely drafted and expertly developed, but unless Taylor lowers his demands -- or the sides get real creative -- that appears to be the direction in which this train is headed.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_464673.html
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Old 08-04-2006, 06:21 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ike Taylor Presents Dilemma

I think in this case the Steelers need to pry open their wallets and pay him. Troy is going to command the big bucks,and rightfully so, regardless of what kind of deal Ike gets.
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Old 08-04-2006, 06:25 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ike Taylor Presents Dilemma

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Originally Posted by CapeCod Steel Head
I think in this case the Steelers need to pry open their wallets and pay him. Troy is going to command the big bucks,and rightfully so, regardless of what kind of deal Ike gets.
Good point. At the same I'm hoping that when Ike and his agent come to the table that they take into consideration that Ike has one good season under his belt and that there is still room for improvement as already noted in the above article. Maybe taking into consideration that the Steelers want to be able to see if Ike can step it up to the next level during this upcoming season. Wishful thinking on my part? lol.

More importantly, with the upcoming resignings of Troy and Ben in the near future I'm not sure if the Steelers are going to break the bank in order to keep Ike. This situation could get very hairy in the weeks and months to come. I hope we can get him signed long-term to a reasonable contract, but I'm not holding my breath.
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Old 08-04-2006, 06:34 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ike Taylor Presents Dilemma

Good corners are hard to come by, and they ain't cheap. The article does raise some good points however. He did drop a lot of balls, and he is surrounded by some very talented players. I think they should take a wait and see attitude, but on the other hand I would like to see us keep a good player that we drafted and molded into one of the best!
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Old 08-04-2006, 06:51 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ike Taylor Presents Dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by CapeCod Steel Head
I think in this case the Steelers need to pry open their wallets and pay him. Troy is going to command the big bucks,and rightfully so, regardless of what kind of deal Ike gets.
I Agree With CapeCod! If he already proved him in some cases, why not.
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Old 08-04-2006, 06:56 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ike Taylor Presents Dilemma

This would be easier if it were not for the upcoming Polamalu and Roethlisberger contracts...

"prying open the wallet"...as it was said ... is irrelevent...all teams have the same budget....

he obviously wants to stay...the Steelers KNOW they have 2 HUGE contracts to do next offseason...Let's just hope they figure something out...
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Old 08-04-2006, 07:08 AM   #7
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Default Re: Ike Taylor Presents Dilemma

There are two central questions for the Steelers here:

1. Is Ike Taylor's success primarily a result of his innate talent or due to the system in which he plays & players around him? The Steelers apparently decided with Chris Hope it was the system & players, so he was allowed to leave. With regard to Ike, plus stats are his shutdown of Chad Johnson last season and passes defensed - a negative is INTs dropped. In addition, as the Trib-Review noted, the Seahawks had good success going at him until Hassleback threw a bad INT into coverage in the 4th quarter.

2. The salary cap is designed to require the more talented teams to lose players. While the salary cap keeps going up, players compare their worth to what others are receiving and not simply the $$$ amount - so while receiving a $6 million signing bonus 3 years ago might have been unheard of for a CB, it is now seen as chump change if the going rate for top CBs is a $10 million signing bonus. Accordingly, good teams cannot sign everyone (e.g - Edgerrin James leaves the Colts).

Bottom line is that few players are "must signs" for the Steelers. At the present time, for contracts that will need to be renewed in the next few years only Troy & Ben clearly are in that category. Unfortunately, I believe that will mean Ike Taylor is auditioning for his next team with this season's performance.
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Old 08-04-2006, 08:03 AM   #8
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Default Re: Ike Taylor Presents Dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlanta Dan
Bottom line is that few players are "must signs" for the Steelers. At the present time, for contracts that will need to be renewed in the next few years only Troy & Ben clearly are in that category. Unfortunately, I believe that will mean Ike Taylor is auditioning for his next team with this season's performance.
Good post Dan.

Ike has the talent and capabilities to be one of the elite corners in the league, but only has one full year as a starting CB under his belt and at this point, I don't think that commands him an 8 figure signing bonus at this particular time. I would assume that the Steelers want to keep Ike and hopefully, the two sides will be able to reach a mutually acceptable figure and get Ike signed long-term. If they don't, I also believe Ike will be auditioning for greener pastures this season, unfortunately.
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Old 08-04-2006, 08:35 AM   #9
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Default Re: Ike Taylor Presents Dilemma

I agree with those who think that the Steelers need to open the pocketbook for this guy... There are few current players who are needed as much as Ike...Ben...Troy....? Even Ward could be replaced easier than a quality CB. I, for one, feel we have gone too long with serviceable corners..and it is refreshing to have someone on the outside that teams have to plan against.
He is everything that defines Steeler football...hard working..good attitude...humble...and intelligent.
A great football mind (my 12yo son) has made it simple by saying .."You plan against Ike and Troy will kill you..plan against Troy and Ike will shut you down."
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Old 08-04-2006, 10:17 AM   #10
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Default Re: Ike Taylor Presents Dilemma

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Originally Posted by lamberts-lost-tooth
A great football mind (my 12yo son) has made it simple by saying .."You plan against Ike and Troy will kill you..plan against Troy and Ike will shut you down."
Your son is a very wise 12 year old, LLT. Good job Dad!

I just don't believe that a 1 year starter, no matter how good he played last season, is a higher priority than getting Ben and Taz signed to long term deals.
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