The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is a unit in transition, and several mainstays on the defensive side of the ball could potentially leave for multiple reasons. Cornerback Ike Taylor is a player that has an uncertain future with the team as his contract for 2014 shows a $7 million salary cap hit to an already financially-strapped football club.
Taylor has made it clear that he wants to remain with the Steelers for the remainder of his career, and most recently mentioned the possibility of transitioning from cornerback to the safety position. Some look at this as a possible opportunity for the Steelers to let Ryan Clark walk and move Taylor to safety, but it would be a mistake if you ask me.
Taylor even mentioned two former Steelers that have successfully made the transition from cornerback to safety: Carnell Lake, who now coaches the defensive backs for the Steelers and Hall-of-Famer Rod Woodson, who extended his career by moving to safety. The only problem with this is that there is no comparison between Taylor and those Steelers alumni.
Lake and Woodson both not only had the speed and size to play safety, but their ball skills were amongst the best on the defense during their tenure with the team. Taylor not only showed that he has lost a step, but he has probably the worst set of hands on the defensive side of the football. Taylor only has 14 interceptions in his entire career, and that is pretty poor for a cornerback.
On top of not having great ball skills, Taylor is not the most dependable tackler on the defense, and that is something that is a necessity to play the safety position.
If the Steelers move Taylor to safety, it is a downright mistake. For a defense that has players in place to take over at safety in Shamarko Thomas and possibly Will Allen, it would be foolish to make the move. If Taylor is not released and returns to the team for 2014, it should be at corner.
The Steelers have an opportunity to get younger and faster on defense this offseason, and that is something that is desperately needed. However, that should not happen by moving 11-year veterans around in the secondary.