Twelve-year Pittsburgh Steelers veteran cornerback Ike Taylor announced his retirement on Tuesday via the Steelers’ official website. Taylor was an unrestricted free agent this offseason and wasn’t expected back in Pittsburgh or to latch onto another team.
The 34-year old Taylor totaled 636 career combined tackles, 14 interceptions and 144 passes defensed in 174 games played. He was a fixture on the Steelers’ secondary and at one point was not just a top cornerback for the team, but one of the better defensive backs in the AFC North. Age—and in 2014, a broken arm—slowed Taylor’s performance over time. Both the Steelers and Taylor realized it was time to part ways.
Speaking to Steelers.com, Taylor said of his free agency experience that, “I wasn’t cut, I wasn’t released. It was just my contract was up and it was time to retire. If you want to have pride, well that is the kind of pride I have, being able to play my contract out.”
Taylor is the second veteran Steelers defender to retire in recent days. His announcement that he is hanging up his cleats comes on the heels of the same decision made by longtime Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu. This was not a coincidence, according to Taylor, but rather kismet:
We came in together, we were going out together. That is how we rock. We came in, we are leaving together,” the now retired Taylor said. “That is my loyalty to that man. I said once Troy does his, I will decide. That is what I owe to Troy.”
This won’t be the end of Taylor’s involvement with the Steelers organization. He says he plans to assist the defensive coaching staff during May’s OTAs.
Taylor had nothing but praise for the Steelers in his statement. He said, “Other than having my son, playing for the Steelers has been the best experience in my entire lifetime.”
The Steelers currently have three cornerbacks vying for starting jobs in wake of Taylor’s retirement—Cortez Allen, Antwon Blake and William Gay. It is expected that the team will add at least one more via the draft.
Photo: USA Today Imagees