Steelers notebook: Unrestricted free agent Gay wants to return
Officially, 20 players on the Steelers' roster are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents come March.
None have played more games for the team than cornerback William Gay, who hasn't missed a game over his nine-year NFL career — although he spent the 2012 season with the Arizona Cardinals.
Gay played more snaps than any player on the Steelers defense, and he shares the unit's captaincy with end Cameron Heyward.
But will he be back for the 2016 season?
“Who knows? ... I wish I did,” Gay said. “Ain't no one knows about the offseason. Do I want to be here? Yes. But do I know? No. Only the owners, Kevin Colbert and Mike T (Tomlin) know.”
Among the unrestricted free agents, 16 were active for at least multiple games and seven could be considered starters — including Gay and two other cornerbacks, Antwon Blake and Brandon Boykin.
“There's no place I'd rather be,” Blake said. “I love being a Steeler, so hopefully that works out.”
Several Bengals players took to social media in the immediate aftermath of the Steelers' divisional playoff loss in Denver on Sunday night to express joy in the Steelers' season ending.
Cincinnati cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick posted to Twitter, “What goes around comes around #karma,” receiver Mohamed Sanu posted “Mood=(60 smiley faces)” and safety George Iolka wrote, “And just like that, all is right in the world again.”
The Steelers on Monday responded with a collective, figurative shrug.
“That's OK; we're all in the same boat,” linebacker James Harrison said. “We're not holding the Lombardi; they're not holding the Lombardi.”
Suisham not kicking yet
Kicker Shaun Suisham continues to rehab his left knee after sustaining a torn ACL and meniscus making a tackle during the preseason opener. He has not been cleared to kick.
“And that's still a ways off,” Suisham said. “There's not a timetable; the ultimate goal is to be ready for training camp.”
Adams happy returning
Mike Adams entered 2015 believing he would be a free agent after the season. A back injury and a little-known rule cost him the season — and his free agency.
Adams spent the season on the physically unable to perform list, so he will have to wait another year to be a free agent.
“It's no secret that I love being here,” Adams said. “So to be able to be back for a year and not have this year, in a sense, count against me, was kind of a good thing — not (merely) kind of a good thing; it was a great thing.”
Adams said he maintained a weight of “around 300 pounds” — down somewhat from his listed playing weight with the Steelers and even more from his time at Ohio State.
“My main focus was just not to get fat,” Adams said. “I feel good, still around 300 pounds. I wouldn't say I got fat. So, success.”
No retribution for Wallace
Despite threats earlier in the week from the Broncos, center Cody Wallace said there was no attempt at retaliation after he was penalized for a late hit in the first game between the teams Dec. 20.
“It was a clean game,” he said. “It was nice to see that. There was none of that extra stuff that takes away from it.”
Support for Toussaint
Across the locker room, Steelers expressed support for young running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who had a critical fumble late in Sunday's game.
“You have to grow from it,” guard Ramon Foster said. “There's nothing you can do to take it back. I'm sure there will be some crazy fan backlash. The guy came in and earned it the hard way the way he did. I'm proud of him. It wasn't perfect, but nobody is.”
Boswell OK with being passed
Tomlin twice during Sunday's game elected against attempting field goals of roughly 50-52 yards. During the first quarter, it was in favor of going for it and calling a deep pass on 4th and 1; in the fourth quarter, it was punting with the ball at the 34.
Kicker Chris Boswell, who was 2 for 2 from 50 yards and beyond this season, took no offense.
“It's not my call; I'm not going to hold it against anyone or act like it's my decision,” said Boswell, who had a 54-yarder in college. “If going for it is going to help us win more, I'm all for it.”
The Steelers-Broncos game drew a 23.6 rating and 43 million viewers, which earned the second-largest AFC divisional round audience on record since 1988.
The peak time was from 7:30 p.m. until the conclusion, reaching a 26.6 rating and 49.1 million viewers. The Jets-Colts divisional game from 2011 holds the record with 43.5 million viewers.
Vinopal on board
Former Pitt safety Ray Vinopal said he signed a reserve/future contract with the Steelers. Vinopal started the final 26 games of his career at Pitt, recording five interceptions, including two in a victory against Notre Dame in 2013. He spent the 2015 preseason with the Dallas Cowboys before he hurt his ankle and was waived injured.