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Now, before I get any further, the title of this post suggests that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be forced to choose either Ike Taylor or LaMarr Woodley but not both, when deciding which marquee free agents are worth investing in to substantial multi-year contracts. Taylor, of course, is not currently under contract and will be a free agent when the NFL Lockout is finally lifted and a new set of rules governing free agency are agreed upon and put in place. Woodley meanwhile is currently designated to play the 2011 season under the 'Franchise Tag'. (It's not yet clear whether there will be Tags in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that the current Franchise Tags will be honored for the 2011 season even if Franchise and Transition Tags are modified or abolished altogether for 2012 and beyond.)
So, let's assume that the Steelers don't technically have to make a final decision about Woodley until next winter when the 2012 offseason begins. (They could also opt to re-sign him to a long-term deal sometime during this season once some semblance of stability is reintroduced to the league). Even if they did decide to wait until the end of the 2011 season before making a final determination on Woodley, it's not like these decision aren't extremely interconnected. In other words, any decision concerning Taylor will definitely have strong implications on what's possible financially with Woodley. And vice versa.
If so, it's perhaps not so unreasonable to then ask: 'Who should be bigger free agent priority, Ike Taylor or LaMarr Woodley?'
I'm curious to hear your opinions, but I would just encourage you to dig deeper than simply saying 'of course, Woodley. He'll be 27 this season; Taylor turned 31 last month.'
That's one factor, but there's more to consider than just that. Think three years down the line; consider the window of opportunity to win Super Bowls now; consider their positions, and the respective depth charts at each; etc.
Have at it. I'll follow up with my own thoughts soon enough.
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