Pro Football Focus Calls CB William Gay Steelers’ Best Value Free-Agent Contract Since 2013

For many teams, free agency is a chance for them to try and rectify some of their draft mishaps by spending. For years, Redskins/Commanders owner Dan Snyder was absolutely notorious for this, and year in and year out, he seemed to fail miserably. For other teams such as the Packers or Steelers, building through the draft and hitting on those picks, then re-signing them has been a roadmap to success.

If we look at the most successful teams year in and year out, it’s no coincidence that said teams are hitting on the overwhelming majority of their draft picks.

In this analysis by Brad Spielberger at Pro Football Focus, he places the top values on contracts handed out by each team since the 2013 season, and designates them by using their WAR chart (wins above replacement). He takes the salary cap in 2013, which was $123 million, and then divides it by five. He then multiplies the player’s wins above replacement in that season by that amount. I’ve provided a link for those of us who aren’t math wizards.

In any event, Spielberger designates the Steelers’ fifth-round pick in 2007, cornerback William Gay, as the team’s top value contract. Gay won Super Bowl XLIII with the team over the Arizona Cardinals, and then coincidentally, decided to sign with them in free agency in 2012.

However, he was released after the season, and wound up back in the Steel City on a three-year, $4.5 million deal, which Spielberger wrote, was tremendous bang for their buck.

“He generated .997 wins above replacement over three seasons, which carried a value of $26,302,664. Gay’s best PFF grade during the stint was 80.3 in 2013,” Spielberger writes.

In the 2013 through 2015 seasons, Gay was a central figure on the team’s starting defense, as he intercepted six passes over those three years, taking five of them to the house. With an offense featuring the “Killer B” triplets of QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and mercurial WR Antonio Brown, any time your defense is putting points on the board will make those aforementioned three that much more dangerous to handle.

In fact, his pick-six off Bengals’ QB A.J. McCarron in a December game in 205 tied him with franchise-great and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson for the most career interceptions returned for touchdowns, with six. After his career, Gay became a coaching intern in 2019 with the Steelers, and now is the defensive backs coach for Missouri State. What do you think of Spielberger’s assessment? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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