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Old 08-09-2006, 12:31 AM   #1
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Default Smizik: Taylor's talent terrific, timing terrible

Smizik: Taylor's talent terrific, timing terrible
Wednesday, August 09, 2006

By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Cornerbacks such as Ike Taylor don't come around often. It wouldn't be a stretch to say Taylor, 6 feet 1, 191 pounds, has the speed, size and skill to be the best the Steelers have had at the position since the great Rod Woodson, a certain Hall of Famer.

It took Taylor three seasons to step up to the NFL big time, but he clearly did so last year as an anchor in the secondary for the team that won the Super Bowl. His development was slowed by the fact he played only one season on defense in college at Louisiana-Lafayette, but now there appears to be no ceiling for Taylor, who has shown the kind of lockdown talent that could make him a Pro Bowl player for years.

Too bad it won't be with the Steelers.

Taylor is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is a potentially outstanding player at one of the most important positions on the field, which will put him in great demand when he becomes a free agent at the end of this season. But he is on a team that has some depth at cornerback and, of greater importance, one that has financial commitments of a higher priority.

Taylor's agent, Scott Smith, is in a slow negotiating dance with the Steelers that appears to be going nowhere. The two sides are talking, just not often or with great seriousness.

"We've been in discussion for some time," said Smith over the phone yesterday. "We will continue to talk and work to get something done."

Translation: The Steelers aren't so much playing hardball as they are no-ball with Smith and Taylor.

It's nothing personal, just business.

The Steelers would love to sign Taylor and line him up against the best wide receivers in the league for the next five or six years. But there's this bothersome thing known as a salary cap. If the Steelers pay Taylor what the market will demand, it won't leave them room to sign other players who figure even greater in their future.

Smith isn't talking about what he specifically wants, but he makes no attempt to disguise the fact he believes his client is something special.

"Cornerback is a premier position, and Ike has established himself as a premier player at that position," he said. "We're seeking compensation commensurate with his performance on the field."

Translation: An eight-figure signing bonus -- as in $10 million. That's the amount of the signing bonus the Dallas Cowboys presented cornerback Anthony Henry before the 2005 season.

It's not even certain if Smith has been able to broach that figure with the Steelers, so slow has been the pace of negotiations. He was in camp last weekend for a visit, but had no contract discussions with the team.

The problem with Taylor is this: If the Steelers give him an eight-figure signing bonus, it will put them in an impossible situation with strong safety Troy Polamalu, a more important defensive player, when he's eligible for free agency in two years.

In the salary-cap era, you can't pay everyone.

The Steelers will discontinue negotiations with Taylor once the season begins and continue them after the season only if the two sides are close, which is highly unlikely.

Taylor was a disappointment in his first two seasons, when he started two games and had the look of one of those perennial underachievers. But given a chance to take Willie Williams' starting job in training camp last season, he came into his own. Bill Cowher allowed three young players, Taylor, Ricardo Colclough and rookie Bryant McFadden to challenge for the job, and Taylor came away the winner.

He started 15 games and four more in the playoffs and, in the process, established himself as one of the bright young talents at his position.

If he had one shortcoming, it was a large one. He couldn't hold on to the ball. Time and again he dropped potential interceptions. He was all over receivers, most notably Chad Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals, but, when interception opportunities came his way, he didn't make the plays. He intercepted only one pass during the season and added another in the Super Bowl, a 24-yard return that set up a score.

"I want to be the complete corner, the lockdown corner," said Taylor before practice yesterday at Saint Vincent College. "I want to be somebody that everyone is talking about, one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL."

He knows he's not there yet.

"I've got to work on a whole lot of stuff. One is catching the ball. I want to get my game to the point where I have no flaws."

Taylor maintains the problem with dropping interceptions is not his hands.

"My hands are fine, it's my concentration. I'm not looking the ball into my hands. I want to start upfield before I catch the ball."

He's that close to being a premier cornerback, just not one who has a long-term future with the Steelers.
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Old 08-09-2006, 12:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: Smizik: Taylor's talent terrific, timing terrible

It's a shame, I hope we sign him, but the article makes sense... If we had known Ike was gonna be this good, we could've given him a nice contract before he broke out, but he came out of nowhere. Hopefully Colclough develops, but I'm not putting any money on it. Everything I read about him makes me have less and less faith...
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Old 08-09-2006, 01:13 AM   #3
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Default Re: Smizik: Taylor's talent terrific, timing terrible

10 million signing bonus? Even if he has a standout year, I don't see that happening.
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: Smizik: Taylor's talent terrific, timing terrible

Quote:
Originally Posted by TasmanianTroy271
It's a shame, I hope we sign him, but the article makes sense... If we had known Ike was gonna be this good, we could've given him a nice contract before he broke out, but he came out of nowhere. Hopefully Colclough develops, but I'm not putting any money on it. Everything I read about him makes me have less and less faith...
It is a shame. But when the stories were leaked a few months back I got fairly aggravated. I became angered at his failure to see the bigger picture. But it became clear as time went on that it was not Ike trying to break the bank but his agent Scott Smith (bloodsucker).

I'll give Ike this...at least he was in a position to even make those 'potential' interceptions.

Let's just forget the stupidity in an eight figure signing bonus for a moment - or several.

But then I pose this question to those with better knowledge of LeBeau and his system. HOW MUCH of Ike's success should be credited to the LeBeau system? And if Ike were playing for the Texans would Scott Smith have the audacity to point a gun at anyone let alone the Rooneys.

Either way a "Farewell Ike" won't be detrimental this season because he'll have to bust his ass for Scott Smith's ploy. Have fun inside the Beltway.

McFadden is a Steeler.
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Old 08-09-2006, 05:56 AM   #5
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Default Re: Smizik: Taylor's talent terrific, timing terrible

I think Lebeau's system has alot to do with it... dont forget .. Taylor did get burned a few times last year when he was one on one with players and didnt have any help behind him. Pending what Troy is going to do, The CB's usually have help behind them... but are solo sometimes and Taylor was exposed and burned. That being said, he flashed some very good moments only to not be able to make that interception because he couldnt hang on to the ball.

I personally think Troy is a more valuable player, Big Bens contract is going to need to redone as well as some others and i just dont think that Taylor and his demands are going to be able to be met.

It is not just his agent, Taylor obviously has his sites on what he feels he should make or else a deal would have been done if Taylor wanted to remain a Steeler. They both think that he is going to be a Pro Bowl corner and should be paid like one now. Alot if players have potential.. and i think the Steelers are making the right move and not overpaying for him when we have very limited needs in the next 3 drafts and are able to take plenty of corners with the first few picks in each draft if needed or else free agency.
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Old 08-09-2006, 07:41 AM   #6
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Default Re: Smizik: Taylor's talent terrific, timing terrible

Ike will have to make up his mind. Do I want to be a Steeler or is money the big talker? He's got some talent but there are plenty of talented young players behind him. Plus, as stated before, in just might be the system. I think very few players have had success outside of the Steelers Defensive scheme.

I'd like to see Ike stay a Steeler but not at the expense of other players who rank higher on the pay scale!
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Old 08-09-2006, 08:20 AM   #7
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Default Re: Smizik: Taylor's talent terrific, timing terrible

Excactly, is not only Taylor.. but a few other players as well. I am sure Troy and Ben and Haggens and Porter and a few others will have that same decision to make when time comes up that they could possibly get paid more elsewhere, but if they want to remain a Steeler or not. We always replace them so to me, if they go they go and good luck to em.

Whenver someone defects ( that is what i call it lol ) .. i always hope they have a bad year and the team they go to will be aweful just so they can regret leaving us and taking more money and that they are miserable wherever they go. lol lol
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Old 08-09-2006, 08:22 AM   #8
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Default Re: Smizik: Taylor's talent terrific, timing terrible

Well, the only way they have a chance to re-sign him is if they let Porter walk...other than that, he'll probably be gone. However, he's had only one good season thus far and I agree with the Steelers not rushing to get him signed. He's going to have to prove himself this year that he's worthy of a $10 million signing bonus, whether it's from the Steelers or another team, by having a solid year - maybe even a better year than last year.
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Old 08-09-2006, 07:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: Smizik: Taylor's talent terrific, timing terrible

Quote:
Originally Posted by stlrtruck
Ike will have to make up his mind. Do I want to be a Steeler or is money the big talker? He's got some talent but there are plenty of talented young players behind him. Plus, as stated before, in just might be the system. I think very few players have had success outside of the Steelers Defensive scheme.

I'd like to see Ike stay a Steeler but not at the expense of other players who rank higher on the pay scale!
Money legitimately is the big talker for all players. Just look at Chukky Okobi as the latest example (although the latest reports indicate Okobi's disk injury might not be as bad as first feared) that without guaranteed contracts a NFL player can have his a career end in an instant and have nothing guaranteed other than what is secured through the signing bonus.

In this case, I respect the negotiating positions of both Taylor and the Steelers. It is unfortunate that good teams lose good players because of the cap, but it beats the alternative of a capless league in which the big market teams such as the Redskins, Cowboys, and Patriots would buy all the best players every year.
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Old 08-09-2006, 07:19 PM   #10
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Default Re: Smizik: Taylor's talent terrific, timing terrible

I like Ike Taylor alot and he has alot of upside. But noway the Steelers can give him a 10 million dollar signing bonus. Sorry thats just to much.
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