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Steelers, Taylor open contract talks

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Steelers, who have a policy of not negotiating contracts during the season, have opened discussions with cornerback Ike Taylor about a new deal that would allow him to finish his career in Pittsburgh.

Taylor, who could emerge as one of the top unrestricted free agents in the offseason, said his contract has been an ongoing topic of discussion and was addressed after the Steelers arrived in Texas this week for Super Bowl XLV.

"There have been conversations. I've talked with a few people in this organization about remaining here. They know I want to retire as a Steeler,'' Taylor said Thursday. "I've been telling them I want to be here since the beginning of the season. Now it's getting down to this point.''

Breaking from tradition, the Steelers decided not to wait until after the season to make Taylor their top offseason priority. The team is free to negotiate with Taylor and can use a franchise tag to retain his rights until 11:59 p.m. on March 3, when the current collective bargaining agreement ends.

If the Steelers sign Taylor to a long-term deal before the deadline, they won't have to use a franchise tag, which is the average of the top five players at that position. Last year, the franchise tag for cornerbacks was $9.566 million.

If Taylor, a starter since 2005, hits the market, the Steelers may not be able to afford him. Last year, Dunta Robinson signed a six-year, $57 million contract with Atlanta as an unrestricted free agent.

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Steelers Pep Rallies continue at the Fayette County Courthouse in Uniontown on Friday, February 04, 2011. Students, faculty and staff at St. Vincent College in Unity Township cheer during a a 'Stairway to 7' pep rally on February 3, 2011. The

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Reporters from around the world interview the Steelers during a Super Bowl XLV media sessions Wednesday and Thursday at Texas Christian University following Media Day Tuesday February 1, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

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