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Steelers Free Agency: William Gay is expected to return for 2013

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After spreading his wings and flying the coop, a prodigal Cardinal is coming back home to roost where his NFL career began.

Ronald Martinez

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, recently released Arizona Cardinals cornerback William Gay is expected to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers when he visits them Monday, after a one-year free-agency hiatus.

Gay responded affirmatively to questions from Steelers safety Ryan Mundy and offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert about Gay coming back to town.

Gay started for the Steelers in 2011, and was the team's nickel corner in 2010, one year after a failed starting experiment in 2009. Incidentally, the Steelers picked up CB Bryant McFadden in 2010, one year into a free agent contract he signed with the Cardinals the previous season.

The advancement of cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen made Gay expendable last year. Both had outstanding seasons, leading speculative questions of whether Gay is being signed as a leverage move or insurance against Lewis in his unrestricted free agency status, or the Steelers are simply stockpiling depth at cornerback - a position that suffered multiple injuries during the year's final push for a playoff berth. The lack of depth they had was one of multiple reasons the Steelers suffered a late-season swoon and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Gay was originally drafted by the Steelers in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

After one season, Gay is again an unrestricted free agent after Arizona severed ties with the failed experiment. However, as has been well documented this off-season, Pittsburgh has been walking a salary cap tightrope and they simply could not afford to enter a bidding war for Gay with the amount of depth at the position, including two 2011 draft picks. His shift to the Cardinals had little to do with the Steelers not wanting him around.

Evidently, the Steelers still haven't changed their mind on him; although the key of his tune has changed.