Gay returns to Steelers; Franchise tag unused
The Steelers quickly cured William Gay's homesickness.
Gay, who missed the Steelers so much last season that he frequently sought out their games to watch after joining the Cardinals, returned to Pittsburgh by signing a three-year contract Monday.
Gay, who started 35 games from 2007-11, is following cornerback Bryant McFadden's path in 2010 by returning to the Steelers after playing one season in Arizona.
“You definitely miss it. It's like going away from your family when you go to college,” Gay said of playing for the Steelers. “You get a little homesick. I caught myself looking at some of their games during the season. ... You see the guys that you played with, like my big brother, Ike Taylor.”
As soon as the Cardinals released Gay one year into his two-year contract, Taylor began lobbying GM Kevin Colbert to bring Gay back.
“He was like, ‘Hey, man, y'all need to get Will Gay back,' ” Gay said. “Kevin looked at him like, ‘Are you his agent, or what?' ”
The Cardinals cut Gay rather than pay him the $3.225 million he was owed for 2013.
“Soon as it hit the wire that I was released, I got a call from the black and gold and that put a smile on my face — my home team, the team that drafted me, wanted me back,” Gay said.
Gay provides the Steelers some protection in case starting cornerback Keenan Lewis — who replaced Gay as a starter — leaves via free agency. If Lewis signs elsewhere, Cortez Allen likely would become a starter and Gay could slide into the nickel back role Allen played last season.
Asked if the Steelers defined his role for him, Gay said, “They just said, ‘Come back and let's go. Let's compete and win some games.' That's what I want to do.”
If Lewis doesn't sign with another team and returns to Pittsburgh, the Steelers still need cornerback depth. The 5-foot-10, 183-pound Gay started 15 games for Arizona last season and 15 in his final Steelers season in 2011, making two interceptions each season.
Gay, a fifth-round pick in 2007, was let go after former Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton left the Cardinals to become the Browns' defensive coordinator.
Gay never considered following Horton to Cleveland.
“And play against Pittsburgh for two games?” Gay said. “It's Cleveland. I don't know if I could deal with that.”
Also Monday, the Steelers declined to place the franchise tag on a player for the third year in a row.
They could have retained wide receiver Mike Wallace ($10.537 million tag) or Lewis ($10.854 million) by doing so, but chose against it.
As unrestricted free agents, Wallace and Lewis can sign with another team next week without the Steelers receiving compensation.
The Steelers last used the franchise tag on kicker Jeff Reed in 2010.
According to NFL.com rankings, Wallace is the best player available on the free-agent market.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers offense learning to slam door
- Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
- Steelers defensive game changer: Fourth-down stop thwarts Chiefs
- Steelers-Bengals game to start at 8:30 p.m.
- Heyward, swarming defense get best of Chiefs in Steelers’ win
- Steelers notebook: Gay respects ‘anything’ referees call
- Steelers clinch trip to postseason with big victory over Chiefs
- Missed chances haunt Chiefs against Steelers
- Chiefs notebook: Trip not intentional, Walker maintains
- Steelers’ Bell, Chiefs’ Charles elevating running back position in NFL
- Banged-up Steelers can clinch with win over Chiefs