The Steelers today signed cornerback Ike Taylor to a five-year contract worth $22.5 million. It includes a $6.4 million signing bonus and erases fears that they might lose him as a free agent after this season.
The deal came four days before the club's self-imposed deadline to end all contract negotiations until the end of the season, and three days after Taylor told reporters he thought something might get done.
By extending Taylor's contract, the Steelers have no starters eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2006. Starting right tackle Max Starks will be their only restricted free agent if he does not sign a new contract before free agency starts in March.
The deal comes one week after they signed halfback Willie Parker to a four-year, $13.6 million contract with a $3.75 million signing bonus.
Taylor, a fourth-round draft choice from Louisiana-Lafayette in 2003, became their starting left cornerback at the start of last season. His 25 passes defensed led the NFL, but he acknowledged dropping about 10 interceptions. He did catch three, one during the regular season and two in the playoffs, including a big one in the Super Bowl.
Taylor, 26, has the rare combination for a cornerback of size and speed. He stands 6 feet 1, weighs 191 and can run with the better receivers in the league.
He led the Steelers with 10 tackles in the 2005 opener and continued his physical play throughout the season, finishing with 72 solo tackles, fourth on the team.
"He gets his hands on a lot of balls, has a lot of knockdowns,'' Dolphins coach Nick Saban said. "I think their two corners are really smart in how they play, and they're not easy to beat."
The Steelers signed eight players to their practice squad today, all of them waived Friday or Saturday by the team: QB Omar Jacobs, DE Shaun Nua, RB Cedric Humes, TE Jon Dekker, DE Orien Harris, RB John Kuhn, CB Anthony Madixon, OT Brandon Torrey.
WR Marvin Allen, a British citizen, also joins the unit as part of the NFL's international player development program.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.