Player: Ike Taylor
Experience: 12 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2014 Salary Cap Hit: $7,692,404
2014 Season Breakdown: Ike Taylor began the 2014 as a starting cornerback. He finished the season watching the Steelers’ first postseason game in three years on the sidelines as a healthy scratch, with B.W. Webb even seeing playing time in the game.
There really is no reason, quite frankly, to believe that he will be re-signed as a 35-year old cornerback who missed 11 games last year and hasn’t recorded an interception in three years. Not that that should come as any surprise. He was already forced to take a steep pay cut in excess of $4 million in the offseason just to keep his place on the roster.
But the Steelers did believe that they had a solid starting cornerback tandem this season in Taylor and Cortez Allen, who is of course a completely different story. By season’s end, neither player was contributing.
Taylor only played in five games, as mentioned, in 2014. In the third game of the season, he suffered a broken forearm in a friendly fire collision and was sidelined for eight weeks before sitting out the last three games, plus the postseason, due to additional injuries.
In truth, the only game in which he could be said to have played well was the second game in Baltimore, in which he defended two passes in the end zone, despite the fact that the Steelers were blown out in that game.
Otherwise, he simply wasn’t the same player. He missed a handful of tackles and was beaten deep for plays of 69 and 81 yards in consecutive weeks late in the year after he returned from injury, giving up four touchdowns and nearly a perfect passer rating against.
Free Agency Outlook: Realistically, there probably will not be a market for Ike Taylor this spring. Not like many other former borderline great, mid-30s cornerbacks recently, who have found moderate success on one-year deals. That won’t be Taylor’s script. This is, in all likelihood, the end of the road as a player.
Even if there were a market for him elsewhere, his ties to the organization are so strong that he probably wouldn’t pursue an opportunity elsewhere, even if it meant following Dick LeBeau wherever he winds up.
Taylor has been very conscious of the fact that 2014 could very well be his last year playing the game of football, and I believe that he took the time this year to appreciate that, even if it meant spending most of the year on the sidelines.
He took on a more active role in coaching up some of the younger cornerbacks on the roster, preparing them to participate in the games that he wouldn’t be playing in, serving in the role that was once his, as was once done for him as a young player. That said, I won’t be surprised if he finds his way back into the organization in the future in some other capacity.