Yesterday, cornerback William Gay drop enough hints via social media to make it obvious that he would be returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers following a one year hiatus in which he played for the Arizona Cardinals.
Today, the Steelers made it official, announcing that they have signed Gay to a new contract for three years. Financial terms of the deal were not released, though it is not likely to be much above the veteran minimum for his years of accrued service.
The length of the contract, however, came as a bit of a surprise after Gay allegedly turned down a one year, minimum salary offer that the Steelers extended to him last year after he received a two year deal from the Cardinals.
The somewhat long-term signing of Gay provides the Steelers with a bit of insurance. One of the team’s key free agents this offseason is cornerback Keenan Lewis, who started every game in 2012. Although he did not record an interception, he did lead the league in passes defensed. It is not immediately clear how Gay’s signing might affect the team’s efforts to retain Lewis.
The Steelers are believed to wait out the process, allowing Lewis to test the open market first once the new league year begins on March 12th to determine his market value before attempting to work out a deal.
The team now has three cornerbacks with knowledge of the system under contract for 2012. The veteran of the group, 33 year old Ike Taylor, still has two more years on his deal and has been a starter in three Super Bowls. Gay has three years of starting experience including Arizona last season, under which he was coached by Ray Horton, his former defensive backs coach with the Steelers.
In addition, the team also has third year man Cortez Allen, who got some starting experience late in the season after Taylor suffered a freak leg injury that caused him to miss the last several games. Allen was thrust into the starting lineup for most of those games, and will likely start opposite Taylor if Lewis cannot be re-signed. Gay is experienced as the slot corner, and would likely assume that position.
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