Ike Taylor

Minor Moves: Tuesday

Today’s minor moves..

Ike Taylor Retires

Longtime Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor has decided to end his NFL playing career, and will retire, according to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link). The Steelers confirmed Taylor’s decision today.

Taylor, who will turn 35 next month, spent his entire playing career in Pittsburgh, having been drafted by the team in the fourth round back in 2003. Over the course of his 12 seasons as a Steeler, Taylor never earned a Pro Bowl nod, but was a steady and mostly reliable presence in the club’s secondary, playing 174 regular season contests (140 starts) and another 14 postseason games.

Taylor’s career regular season tallies include 636 total tackles, 14 interceptions, five fumble recoveries, and 133 passes defended. His most notable run may have come following his first year as a full-time starter in 2005, when he nabbed a pair of interceptions in the playoffs en route to the Steelers’ Super Bowl win.

A few weeks ago, we heard that while Taylor hadn’t confirmed his decision to retire, he wasn’t actively seeking out contract offers from NFL teams, and was instead exploring potential television opportunities. As such, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the veteran cornerback pop up on an NFL broadcast next season.

As I noted over the weekend when I examined the noteworthy remaining defensive free agents, Taylor was one of just a handful of notable cornerbacks still on the board. Teams eyeing the free agent market for a corner will now have to turn to veterans like Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers.

Taylor is the Steelers’ second longtime defensive back to retire within the last week, joining Troy Polamalu.

Extra Points: RFAs, Goodell, Bush, Taylor, Colts

As Mike Wilkering of Pro Football Talk observes, while most of 2015’s top unrestricted free agents are off the board, there are still plenty of intriguing restricted free agents available. 20 of this year’s RFAs remain unsigned and received the low-end tender from their respective clubs, meaning a rival suitor wouldn’t have to give up a draft pick to sign them away.

Often, restricted free agents won’t draw a ton of interest and will simply return to their previous teams, but that’s not always the case. A year ago, RFAs like Andrew Hawkins and Rafael Bush signed offer sheets with other teams — Bush’s sheet was matched by the Saints, but the Bengals didn’t match Hawkins’ offer from the Browns.

This year, low-end RFAs like Ravens safety Will Hill, Eagles running back Chris Polk, Raiders wideout Andre Holmes, and Washington kicker Kai Forbath remain on the market. A handful of players – such as Browns safety Tashaun Gipson and Ravens kicker Justin Tucker – also received second-round tenders, but rival teams aren’t likely to give those players big contracts and surrender a second-round pick for them.

As we wait to see whether any restricted free agents change teams, let’s check in on a few more notes from around the NFL….

  • Roger Goodell didn’t reveal much to Peter King of TheMMQB.com during his sitdown with him, but the commissioner did strongly suggest the extra point will undergo some changes before next season, and added that the DeflateGate investigation is nearing an end.
  • As King hinted at in his column, Goodell informed owners at this week’s league meetings in Phoenix that Todd Jones, former Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, is joining the NFL as as special counsel for conduct, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Jones will pair with Lisa Friel as the league’s new personal conduct czars.
  • After running the 40-yard dash in 4.91 seconds at this weekend’s veteran combine in Arizona, Michael Bush admitted that his NFL career is probably over, as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk details.
  • Free agent cornerback Ike Taylor isn’t seeking out offers from teams to continue his playing career, and while he hasn’t made the decision to retire quite yet, the longtime Steeler is exploring potential television opportunities, writes Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • Michael Silver of NFL.com takes a look at the roster-building approach employed by Colts GM Ryan Grigson, as Indianapolis enters win-now mode by signing several veteran free agents like Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, Trent Cole, and Todd Herremans.

Sunday Roundup: Broncos, Hudson, Bradford

Let’s have a look at some links from around the league on this slow news day:

  • Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post believes that, even if Peyton Manning returns in 2015, the Broncos should still find ways to get meaningful snaps for Brock Osweiler.
  • Mike Klis of the Denver Post provides a complete offseason breakdown for the Broncos, which includes the team’s contingency plans should Manning retire (of course, his retirement would create an additional $19MM of cap room that would allow Denver to surround Osweiler with talent). Klis says the Broncos’ top priority will be finding a right tackle, and he therefore puts Bryan Bulaga at the top of the team’s shopping list.
  • Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star fleshes out his tweet from a few days ago with a deeper look into the decision the Chiefs will have to make regarding free agent center Rodney Hudson. Paylor also confirms that the Chiefs are expected to use the franchise tag on Justin Houston.
  • Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that the Rams are in pretty good financial shape. Even though the team’s cap number currently sits just shy of $143MM, with the projected league salary cap to be somewhere between $140MM and $150MM, Thomas notes that St. Louis has plenty of options to reduce their cap number, including a restructure of Sam Bradford‘s contract or even an outright release of the former No. 1 overall pick.
  • Tommy Lawlor of PhiladelphiaEagles.com offers his offseason blueprint for the Eagles, noting that even if the team hands out a big-money deal to Jeremy Maclin, it should still have enough room to shop for a couple of starters in free agency.
  • Free agent cornerback Ike Taylor said that if there is any one person he would follow, it would be Dick LeBeau (Twitter link to SiriusXM NFl Radio). As our Zach Links wrote several days ago, Taylor is one of a number of long-time Steelers who could finish their playing days in a Titans uniform under LeBeau’s tutelage.
  • Summarizing reports from various sources, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk confirms that free agent tight end Jermaine Gresham is unlikely to remain with the Bengals.

North Notes: Briggs, Bears, Taylor

Veteran linebacker Lance Briggs wants to continue playing for the Bears, but he’s not 100% sure that he’ll continue playing football. “It’d be nice,” Briggs said, according to Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. “But as much as I don’t know, I’m excited no matter avenue that I go. If I get to play football, it’s going to be great. That’s priority No. 1. But if I don’t, there’s plenty of avenues for me afterwards. There’s plenty of things that I want to do.” Briggs also said that he’s happy about the arrival of new head coach John Fox while being very careful not to bash former coach Marc Trestman. More from the North divisions..

  • Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor was toying with retirement, but he tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that he’s training as if he’ll be playing in 2015 and he’d like to go another two or three more years. He’d have interest in following former Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to a new team and he’d also be open to playing safety, if it means continuing his playing career.
  • Opinions are split on whether the Lions should give Ndamukong Suh a whopping payday, whether on a record-smashing long-term deal or via the super expensive franchise tag, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. “The talent speaks for itself,” O’Hara said. “I think he’s a phenomenal defensive lineman, very strong, very active. I think the big question, if I’m looking at it big picturewise and I’m running a team, (is) the amount of money that he’s going to command, can I afford it?
  • Browns cornerback Joe Haden wants people to stop slamming Josh Gordon and he hopes that the wide receiver remains with the team, as Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer writes. “JG is a good kid,” Haden, said. “It’s time for people to stop bashing Josh Gordon. Before they start talking about him, they’ve got to figure out what’s really going on.
  • The Browns chatted with Kevin O’Connell today about their quarterbacks coach vacancy and they scheduled an interview with ex-Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper for tomorrow, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). O’Connell worked with Johnny Manziel before he was drafted last year.
  • It sounds like changes could be on the way when it comes to the Packers‘ special teams coaching unit. “It’s important to evaluate,” said head coach Mike McCarthy, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “I obviously haven’t had that opportunity. So we’ll look at everything. We’ll look at every job description, every job responsibility, performance – mine included – and we’ll look to make changes.” All the assistant coaches, including embattled special-teams coordinator Shawn Slocum, were given this week off.

Steelers Notes: Roethlisberger, Defense, FAs

Steelers co-owner and president Art Rooney II met with several Pittsburgh reporters today, addressing a number of topics of interest for the team as the 2015 league year approaches. Via the Twitter accounts of Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, here are a few of the highlights from Rooney’s session:

North Notes: AP, Jennings, Steelers, Shanahan

If Adrian Peterson feels as if he needs a fresh start away from the Vikings next season, head coach Mike Zimmer would respect that decision, he said today in an appearance on Pro Football Talk Live.

“I would respect Adrian’s decision,” Zimmer said. “I’ll always be honest with him and up front but I’m gonna try to explain to him the reasons why I would like to him to be here. But it has to be a two way street and he has to get his life taken care of — but we’ll sit down and talk, but I’m a pretty good recruiter, too.”

Of course, Peterson remains under contract in Minnesota, so it’s not as if he’ll simply have the opportunity to sign elsewhere right away when he’s reinstated from his suspension. But it’s unlikely that the Vikings will want to keep the star running back at his current 2015 cap number ($15.4MM), so Peterson will have leverage to reach the open market if he declines to take a pay cut.

Here are some more Wednesday links from out of the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Bears cornerback Tim Jennings was arrested today in Georgia on charges of speeding, DUI, and reckless driving, according to a report by Jeff Dickerson and Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com. Jennings could face disciplinary measures from the league or from the Bears, who released a statement indicating they’re in information-gathering mode.
  • Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review examines what a new contract for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger might look like, concluding that something in the range of five years and $100MM would make sense.
  • Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor is open to playing one more year in Pittsburgh if the team wants to bring him back, and hopes to remain with the organization after ending his playing career, as Kaboly details. “I can be in the office. I can be at the bottom and work my way up. I can be an assistant,” Taylor said. “I don’t mind working my way from the bottom up.”
  • If Kyle Shanahan decides to leave his offensive coordinator position with the Browns this offseason, he prefers to try to establish his own identity as a coach rather than necessarily teaming up again with his father, tweets Ed Werder of ESPN.com.
  • The Lions announced 12 reserve/futures signings yesterday, but rugby star Jarryd Hayne wasn’t among them. The team still intends to finalize a contract with Hayne once a work visa issue is cleared up, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

Sunday Roundup: Fitz, Polamalu, Suh

As soon as Larry Fitzgerald‘s 2014 season ended with an unceremonious whimper yesterday, talk regarding his cloudy future with the Cardinals began anew. Our Luke Adams wrote that Arizona is unlikely to cut Fitzgerald, but they could trade him or ask to him to restructure his contract. Although Carson Palmer recently signed a three-year extension with the club, Fitzgerald, who of course would like to add a Super Bowl ring to his Hall-of-Fame resume, will have to consider if his odds of winning it all might not be greater somewhere else before he accepts such a restructure or pay cut (which was deemed unlikely last week).

We noted earlier this morning that the Patriots will once again emerge as a logical landing spot for Fitzgerald. Tom Brady would offer him the caliber of quarterback that he has rarely enjoyed in his career, and New England is seemingly always on the lookout for upgrades at the wide receiver position.

Any decision on Fitzgerald, of course, will likely have to be made before March, when he is owed an $8MM roster bonus. For his part, Fitzgerald says he has not thought about his 2015 destination just yet. “The taste of defeat is the only thing I can think about right now,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s all that’s on my mind. It’s been a great season competing with these fellas and this coaching staff.”

Now for some links from around the league as Day 2 of Wildcard Weekend gets underway.

  • Steelers safety Troy Polamalu says it is fair to wonder if he has played his last game, tweets Scott Brown of ESPN.com. Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review adds (via Twitter) that there is virtually no chance Polamalu returns next season.
  • Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ponders the futures of several other Steelers veterans, including Ike Taylor and James Harrison.
  • Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network tweets that the Lions hope Ndamukong Suh will test his value on the free agent market and ultimately return to Detroit.
  • Suh may have a number of suitors, and although Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com notes that Washington will have some salary cap room to work with in free agency, Suh should not be one of the team’s targets.
  • Andrew Kulp of CSNPhilly.com writes that the recent front office “shake-up” in the Eagles organization, which ostensibly gave head coach Chip Kelly full control over the team’s roster, does not really present much of a change. After all, as Kulp says, “[W]hat moves have the Eagles made in the two years since Kelly’s arrival that didn’t have his fingerprints all over them?”
  • Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that the 49ers‘ lack of a consistent approach to their head coaching search makes their hiring process just as difficult to understand as the decision to cut ties with Jim Harbaugh.
  • Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star lays out the difficult decisions the Chiefs have to make this offseason, including what to do with Dwayne Bowe and Tamba Hali, the release of whom could give the team some much-needed cap space.
  • Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said that suspended linebacker Daryl Washington has “protocols” to pass before he can be reinstated, and Arians, team president Michael Bidwill, and GM Steve Keim will “sit down and talk about” Washington’s future (Twitter links from Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com).
  • Arians also stated that he believes Cardinals quarterback Logan Thomas has a great future, which is one of the reasons Arians chose not to play him down the stretch and into the playoffs; he did not want to put Thomas through “growing pains” (Twitter link to Urban).
  • In yet another tweet, Urban reports that Cardinals wideout Jaron Brown fractured his scapula in yesterday’s loss to Carolina and is expected to be out four to six months.

AFC Notes: Sanders, Bengals, Gipson, Steelers

After joining the Broncos on a three-year, $15MM contract during the offseason, receiver Emmanuel Sanders is enjoying the best season of his career. In fact, his production will allow him to collect on several incentives that were included in his deal. Per Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, Sanders can earn $250K for catching 90 passes, another $250K for scoring 14 touchdowns, and $500K for accruing 1,200 receiving yards. Currently, Sanders is posting a 67-954-7 line, so those goals remain in reach (though the TD mark will be tough to attain). At the link, La Canfora lists each increment of Sanders’ incentives in chart form. Here’s more from the AFC…

  • After missing the previous two games while dealing with an ankle ailment, Bengals right tackle Andre Smith was forced from today’s game with a triceps injury, and the team believes it could be a significant concern, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports (Twitter link). If Smith tore his triceps, he would likely miss the remainder of the season, meaning Cincinnati would turn to reserve lineman Marshall Newhouse (who was also sidelined today).
  • Browns safety Tashaun Gipson, who leads the NFL with six interceptions, had to be carted off the field during today’s game after suffering a knee injury, writes Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Losing Gipson would be a major blow to Cleveland defense that boasts the league’s seventh-best DVOA against the pass.
  • The Steelers expect safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker Ryan Shazier, both of whom have been dealing with health concerns, to return for next week’s game against the Saints, reports La Canfora. However, LB Jarvis Jones (who was placed on IR-DTR) and CB Ike Taylor might need a bit more recovery time before they return to action.
  • The Bills will host the Jets tomorrow night in Detroit due to extreme weather conditions in Buffalo, but Bills president Russ Brandon tells La Canfora that Ralph Wilson Stadium will be ready for next week’s contest against the Browns.

Steelers Notes: Taylor, Shazier, Jones

The Steelers headed into Carolina as underdogs last night, but thoroughly outplayed the home team en route to a 37-19 victory. However, Pittsburgh didn’t escape the game unscathed. A handful of players left the contest with various injuries, and while we’re still waiting for official updates from the club, a few reports have surfaced today on the severity of those injuries. Let’s check in on the latest updates….

  • Cornerback Ike Taylor suffered a broken forearm last night, as Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. While Robinson doesn’t specify a timetable, suggesting that Taylor will be sidelined “indefinitely,” Mark Kaboly of the Tribune-Review tweets that the recovery time will likely be six to eight weeks. As our tracker shows, the Steelers have yet to use their IR spot with the designation to return, so Taylor would appear to be a strong candidate for that.
  • A pair of linebackers also sustained injuries last night, and according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter), Ryan Shazier has a strained MCL, while Jarvis Jones will likely require wrist surgery that will keep him out indefinitely. Shazier is undergoing an MRI today, and we should know Jones’ status with more certainty soon, but it looks as if the club may need to add some reinforcements to their linebacking corps.
  • One longtime Steelers linebacker announced his retirement recently, but could be a good candidate to rejoin the team if he’s open to restarting his career. However, Scott Brown of ESPN.com (Twitter link) hears from James Harrison‘s agent Bill Parise that the club has not reached out at this point.