If we ever get back to having a 2011 NFL season, the Steelers have some work to do. Especially in negotiating contracts with some of the unrestricted free agents on the team - who include: Willie Colon, Nick Eason, Trai Essex, Keyaron Fox, Chris Hoke, Anthony Madison, Mewelde Moore, Shaun Suisham, Ike Taylor, LaMarr Woodley, William Gay, Jonathan Scott, Daniel Sepulveda, Matt Spaeth, and Greg Warren.Last week, the Steelers put a franchise tag on Woodley which, when a new CBA is reached, will make him a Steeler while they try to nail down a long-term contract just like they did with Max Starks in 2009 after they tagged him as the franchise player. Â Woodley deserves it. Last year, he played for just $550,000. Yes, you read that right: five hundred and fifty THOUSAND dollars.But the Steelers are planning to make it up to him, at least they should. The franchise tag for Woodley's position is expected to carry a price of more than $10 million.Unfortunately, last year when the Steelers would have liked to have nailed down a deal, Â Woodley was affected by the new 30 percent rule that went into effect in the uncapped year and the Steelers would have been limited to giving him only 30-percent raises above his $550,000 salary. The alternative to that was to give him a HUGE signing bonus which would have run at least $25 million and probably more, and the Steelers just don't do that, as we all know.Â So Woodley played at a salary well below what he's worth
and the Steelers will have to make that up to him in a new contract, in the meantime guaranteeing him that he will earn at minimum $10 million in 2011 provided we get to the next season.Now on to what I view as one of the biggest issues for the Steelers - cornerback.Both Ike Taylor and Will Gay are free agents.Taylor isn't the best in the league among cornerbacks, and he definitely tends to drop more than his fair share of would-be interceptions, but honestly, he's the best we have in that position. Coach LeBeau and Troy Polamalu (who came in with him and was his rookie roommate) regard him highly.He's the closest thing we've got to a "shutdown" cornerback and is rarely out of position in coverage and plays the run well.He's much better than the other side, right?And if he's not signed to a new deal he'll likely be replaced by Will Gay, Keenan Lewis or Crezdon Butler.In other words, we need Ike. Â Seriously, we need Ike desperately and we need to draft some corners in the meantime who can learn the Steelers system and become the next generation of "shut down" corners for us. (Using sarcasm but in a hopeful manner)I just can't see Will Gay being the best that we have. (Sorry Will) He's great on the blitz but he gets beat time and time again in coverage. Â That would be a gift to all quarterbacks and wide receivers in the League. Â And I am not into giving gifts these days. Know what I mean?I like Ike. Sign him.Meanwhile, let's see what happens with this CBA.Countdown to March 3.