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Steelers face decision on Taylor

| Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011

The Steelers have several unrestricted free agents, but cornerback Ike Taylor is likely to attract the most attention from other teams.

A six-year starter, Taylor has never missed a game because of injury. He has started three Super Bowls and is among a handful of corners to have won two Super Bowls as a starter.

The Steelers still control Taylor's rights. They can use the transition tag on Taylor until 12:01 a.m. Friday, when he becomes a full-fledged unrestricted free agent. At that point, Taylor can sign with any team.

Transition tags pay players the average of the top 10 salaries at the position. It guarantees the original club the right of first refusal to match any offer. The transition tag can be used once a year by each club unless it elects to use a franchise tag instead.

It's uncertain if franchise tags and transition tags will be part of the next collective bargaining agreement. That could be why the Steelers designated linebacker LaMarr Woodley as their franchise player last week.

Woodley, according to the current CBA which expires after March 3, is a restricted free agent because he is a four-year veteran; four-year players are considered restricted free agents under the current deal.

If the owners try to declare a negotiating impasse to continue operations as usual under the old deal, they'll want to continue normal business. If the owners are successful in achieving that strategy, the union will want to return to the first years of the collective bargaining agreement and not just the final, uncapped year.

"LaMarr, under the current rules, is a restricted free agent. He and Willie are in the same boat," agent Joe Linta, who represents five-year veteran and free-agent tackle Willie Colon, said before the Steelers gave Woodley the franchise tag. "The Steelers still have rights to tender them under the rules of an uncapped year."

Instead of giving Woodley a tender offer which is normally done for restricted free agents, the Steelers gave him a franchise tag.

Woodley and Colon will become unrestricted free agents if the new CBA honors the rules that were in place prior to the uncapped year.

Additional Information:

Transition phase

A look at the transition tag salary amounts at each position for the 2010 NFL season:

Cornerback: $8.1 million

Defensive end: $10.2 million

Defensive tackle: $6.4 million

Linebacker: $8.4 million

Offensive line: $9.1 million

Punter/kicker: $2.6 million

Quarterback: $14.6 million

Running back: $7.2 million

Safety: $6 million

Tight end: $5.2 million

Wide receiver: $8.7 million

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