Steeler Nation got the news it was anxiously hoping for late Tuesday night when news broke that Ike Taylor and the Steelers had agreed on a new four-year deal to keep Taylor, the team's undisputed best cornerback, in Pittsburgh with the organization that drafted him in the fourth round of the 2003 Draft. From the final snap of last February's Super Bowl until late Tuesday evening -- the opening night of free agency in this wackiest of NFL offseasons -- there have been conflicting reports and myriad opinions about Taylor's future in Pittsburgh and whether or not the six-time champions would be able and willing to offer enough money to retain the Steelers' top corner.
As of early Wednesday morning -- prior to the start of business -- the financials of the deal had not yet been announced. If I had to guess, I'd say something in the ballpark of $38-$42 million, with upwards of $20 million guaranteed (if not slightly more). Again, just a guess. We'll find out soon enough. It's likely though that a hefty portion of the deal will not be in a large, year-one (2011) base salary because of the widely held belief that the Steelers already needed to eliminate payroll to get under the cap prior to Taylor re-signing. Obviously welcoming No. 24 back to the fold adds to their salary expenditures.
More soon on what the Taylor re-signing means for the Steelers' upcoming free agency maneuverings, but let's quickly turn our attention to another AFC North squad who checked off an important item in their free agency 'to-do' list: the Baltimore Ravens.The Ravens re-signed an important member of their offensive line on Tuesday, inking right tackle Marshall Yanda to a five-year deal worth $32.million (nearly two-thirds of which is guaranteed I believe).
The Ravens had offered Yanda a similar deal prior to the lockout, perhaps with less guaranteed money though I'm not entirely sure. The deal was not accepted at the time, presumably because Yanda's agents advised him not to take the offer just yet. Well, it appears as if Yanda,26, was more inclined to take the offer and secure his future for the next half decade.
You'd think that the signing all but guarantees the end of the Jared Gaither era in Baltimore. It also makes you wonder what the future holds for Jah Reid, Baltimore's third round selection in the 2011 Draft. Reid is a fairly raw talent that probably wouldn't be trusted at right tackle in '11 even if Yanda hadn't been re-signed. But he could very well start at guard this year. Marcus Gilbert, Pittsburgh's second round selection, might as well before moving out to tackle. Fortunately for Baltimore, Yanda, himself, is versatile and can play at guard if need be. He's started nearly a season's worth of games at right guard during his four-year career.
After Day 1 of free agency, it's only fitting that two of the fiercest rivals and evenly matched teams in the NFL managed to keep pace with one another by retaining their top free agent priorities at a reasonable price, no? Awesome stuff. Congratulations to all parties, including fans of both teams.