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Steelers' Free Agent Analysis: Secondary

This time in the offseason provides a bit of a lull, as most news centers around grading draft prospects. While we'll certainly get in to Steeler needs on draft day, that report can't happen until we evaluate who the Steelers' free agents are and whether or not the Steelers can (and will) retain them.

Today we'll start with the secondary, where the Steelers have three free agents: Safety Chris Hope and Cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend. Retaining all three isn't going to happen, nor should it. The question is whether or not the Steelers will pay to keep any of them in place.

To begin with, we can kiss Deshea Townsend good bye. He's been a reasonably solid Steeler, and still has some good years left in him, but it's time for him to move on.

The real question is what to do with Ike Taylor and Chris Hope. On the one hand, Hope provides a really nice compliment to Troy Polomalu. While Troy is more of a gambler, Hope is much more cautious, perhaps overly so at times, but it's a weakness that plays well with Polomalu's free ranging style. With Hope, I think what you see is what you get.

Taylor, on the other hand, provides a more interesting case. He's already developed into a solid starter, but he has room to improve, and is doing so quickly. His upside/ceiling is much higher than Hope's, and the backups to Taylor, Willie Williams (35 years old) and Chidi Iwuoma, aren't going to replicate what he can offer.

The guess here is that both Hope and Taylor get re-signed, assuming neither gets out of control with their asking price. The secondary is a tough spot to fill immediately from the draft, and the Steelers aren't terribly deep with talent, despite efforts in past drafts to improve. With that said, if one of the two is going to go, I think it'll be Hope. He'd be missed, but I think Taylor is the priority.