During the 2015 season, Pittsburgh Steelers veteran cornerback William Gay earned $1.5 million. Fellow Steelers cornerbacks Antwon Blake and Cortez Allen, however, both earned $1.542 and $5.631 million respectively. See the problem here?
Gay, who has been the Steelers best cornerback for the last two seasons, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year and if all possible, Pittsburgh needs to re-sign him.
So, what is Gay’s market value as we sit here in late January? It’s really hard to say and especially since he turned 31 earlier this month. Currently, Buster Skrine, Cortez Allen, Davon House, Sean Smith, and Keenan Lewis are all averaging $5.1 million or more a season and of that group, Smith is probably the only one you might argue as being a better player than Gay is. For God’s sake, even Justin Gilbert is averaging a little more than $3.2 million and he’s done absolutely nothing since coming into the league.
By my count, Gay has earned a little more than $9 million since he came into the league in 2007 as a fifth-round draft pick. As you can see, I still haven’t gotten to what I think Gay’s average yearly value is because it is indeed very hard to determine. Would I pay Gay $7 million a season for 3 years? Probably not and I have been one of his biggest supporters over the course of his career. Does Gay believe he’s worth $7 million or more a season? Probably.
While the Steelers more than likely want Gay back in Pittsburgh for at least the 2016 season, they aren’t likely to re-sign the Louisville product before the start of free agency. Instead, they will likely let Gay shop his services around just as he did in 2012 when he eventfully signed a two-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals.
In my opinion, Gay won’t have many suitors this time around because of his age and his fit. You know Dick LeBeau would probably like him to be part of the Tennessee Titans defense next season, but only at the right price.
With all due respect to Gay, I think his market value is currently around $4 million a season on a three-year deal with roughly 35% of that deal being guaranteed. Below is what such a deal would look like. Such a deal would pay Gay $4.2 million in 2016 and $8 million after two seasons. It certainly is a great deal for the Steelers as not only could Gay be cut after just one season should the need arise, his cap charge in 2016 would only be $2.4 million.
Will Gay get more than $4 million a season on the open market? Anything is possible and he should probably take it if he can walk away from signing with more than $6 million in his pocket as that would be well over half of what he’s earned his entire NFL career.
In your opinion, what is Gay’s current market value per season? More than $4 million?
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