Ike Taylor is pissed about taking a pay cut. He is not the first NFL player, nor will he be the last to take umbrage at being given an ultimatum. Play for less or pack you're bags...
James Harrison was equally perturbed, and chose to go in the opposite direction of Ike. He packed his bags and took his talents elsewhere.
When Taylor agreed to take his $4 million or so pay cut, there was an abundance of plaudits to go around. Plaudits for the Steelers front office who navigated a potentially ugly situation with characteristic poise, and plaudits for Ike who recognised a good offer when he seen it.
Taylor was a fan favourite, a life long Steeler who had given a decade of loyal, competent service and had been a part of two Super Bowl winning teams. On top of that, Ike had been a staunch and vocal supporter of the Steelers organisation, as well as being a genuinely nice guy and exemplary role model. Those aren't the guys you want to cut.
However Ike was set to earn $7 million in 2014, counting just under $12 million against the cap. For a 34 year old cornerback in decline, that is obviously untenable.
Instead of a head on collision, the Steelers showed some respect for Ike by not cutting him outright. Instead, they offered him a deal which would see him earn $2.75 million in 2014. Taylor, presumably through loyalty to the franchise, fans and whatever ties he has in Pittsburgh, accepted the deal.
He recognised this offer, small as it was in comparison to his original contract, was larger than any he would receive on the open market. He swallowed his pride and accepted the deal, and now he gets to play out his career in black and gold, something clearly important to him.
Cooler heads prevailed.
However, Taylor is now saying he was pissed off about having to take a pay cut, which probably disgruntled a number of fans for a variety of reasons, principally that he is complaining in the first place and because he "only" gets to make $2 million this year.
Of course Ike Taylor is pissed off. I could have told you the second he signed his new deal he was pissed off. Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert and the Rooney's could have told you he was pissed off.
NFL contracts are designed to work like this. It's all about guaranteed money, signing bonuses and what the first three years look like. Veterans don't typically see the end of their contract
That doesn't change the fact that Taylor shook hands with the Steelers and agreed to a contract that would pay him a certain amount of money each year for his services on the field. There have been times when Taylor has over performed to the value of his contract, and there have been times, more recently, when he has underperformed.
He never demanded more money when he was playing very well, why should the Steelers get to demand less money when he isn't playing very well? The answer of course is it's a business, this is just how it works.
Ike Taylor understands that, probably more so than James Harrison did. He gave up $4 million, because he knew it was best for all parties concerned. He did what he needed to do, but that doesn't mean he has to sing and dance and laugh about it.
There are some fans who would say something like this...
"Oh poor Ike Taylor, he only gets $2.75 million instead of $7 million to play a game, how will he manage?" - Random disgruntled fan
Look no one is saying Ike is going to starve or anything, but let's keep things in context. Without getting to much into it, the market has determined the price of an NFL athlete is in the millions, as it is for virtually all sports. If you can't get your head around that then you need to stop watching sports because it's just a fact of life.
Just because Ike Taylor has earned a lot of money in his life does not mean $4 million is not a huge, huge sum of money, for him or anyone else. I can't imagine any coach or player being too thrilled at the prospect, hell ask the Rooney's how they'd feel about losing $4 million.
It's a big deal, even for a millionaire.
I don't know how many of the people criticising Ike Taylor have ever been asked to take a 60% pay cut before, but considering how rare a scenario it is in every day life, I would wager not many. Can you imagine how upset and angry you would be?
He has played his entire career for this franchise, essentially given it everything. For most people, the work and effort Ike Taylor has given over to football would be unimaginable.
I woke up at 10 a.m this morning, had a coffee and a cigarette, then watched two episodes of Breaking Bad. I can guarantee Ike Taylor did something very different. He works as hard now, harder even, at age 34 than he did at age 23, and his reward is being told that he must take a salary cut or else.
He is allowed to be upset. He is allowed to be pissed off and he's certainly allowed to tell people about it.
Taylor's only real sin was voicing his fairly mild discontent during this particular slot on the calender. We're truly in the NFL doldrums, with barely a breath of wind blowing in any direction. Anything said, done or even thought at this point in time is going to get scrutinized and magnified 10 times more than usual, just because it's fresh content. Ike would have been better served either saying something fairly quickly after signing his new deal, or not bothering to at all.
At the end of the day, I highly doubt Taylor's comments will have any negative effect on his play this season, or that of the team as a whole. They weren't particularly divisive in the first place, and I'm fairly certain the front office and fellow players will understand.
The Steelers did what they had to do, and moreover they were right to do so. Ike Taylor understands that, and obviously accepted it.
Just don't expect him to be delighted about it in the process.