Here’s the first in the annual “Free Agent File” series, where I’ll take a look at potential (no matter how unlikely) free agents that may be of interest to the Texans in key need positions. I’ll start out with some of the bigger names, and move on to the middle-ground guys after. I will of course take requests if you have a few.
In the past, I’ve done one blog entry per position with several possibilities listed. This year I’m going to do it on a player-by-player basis so that the entries aren’t as long and the discussion is (hopefully) a little more focused.
Free Agent File: CB
Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh Steelers
Drafted: 2003, 4th Round
Age: 30 (31 in May)
What we know
Taylor has been a standout defensive back for the Steelers in the last few seasons. His career has been up and down, but he’s emerged as one of the most dependable players on their vaunted defense. He’s probably on the verge of losing a step if he hasn’t already, but some of his deficiencies are masked by playing on a consistently upper-echelon defense. When you have great safety play and a good pass rush, you certainly look a lot better as a corner. We also know that Taylor has been an important cog in a team that has made three Super Bowl appearances in six years.
What we don’t know
Without elite pieces around him, how would Taylor fare on a Houston defense where he would be far and away the best player in the secondary? How would he fare without the disruptive pass rush he’s used to playing behind? Of course, there’s always the typical money free agent question – would his play take a step back after getting a fat new contract? Will it suffer as it did when he got his second contract in Pittsburgh, where he was benched in 2006 before regaining his starting job? I think that’s a legitimate concern with Taylor. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if his play regressed in the Steelers organization after a new contract, you have to at least think there’s a decent chance that the same would happen in Houston where there is, shall we say, a “different football culture.”
Durability and playing time
Taylor joined the league in 2003, and has played in 125 of a possible 128 regular season games. He became a full-time starter in 2005 before the aforementioned career “hiccup” in 2006 that he fully-recovered from
My thoughts on Taylor joining the Texans
As we know, Lance Zierlein got the Taylor speculation started with this tweet on New Year’s Eve. On the surface, I’d love to have Ike Taylor join the Texans, but he would come with a hefty price tag, and the uncertainty of how he would play with FAR less talent around him certainly gives me pause. Taylor would not be at the top of my veteran cornerback list, but he’d certainly be in the top five.