The Pittsburgh Steelers have decided not to waive William Gay through OTAs, but is it because of talent or respect?
Respect. The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t need another cornerback on their roster. At this point, William Gay is nothing more than a roster filler who will be the fifth or sixth corner on the team. If he makes it to the regular season, he might see the field a handful of times.
With Artie Burns and Ross Cockrell taking the starting roles yet again, Cameron Sutton and Senquez Golson competing for the nickel, and Brian Allen and Coty Sensabaugh battling for possibly the final active roster spot, Gay doesn’t even fit in the secondary.
Pittsburgh kept him for one reason; respect. As a long-time starter for Pittsburgh, they don’t want to cut him before he retires. Entering his 11th year in the NFL, Gay doesn’t have much time left before he retires. So, as they did with Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward and Brett Keisel, the Steelers will likely give Gay the option to retire a Steeler or test free agency by the end of the summer.
Even if Gay started nine games last season and put up an impressive 42 tackle season, he still doesn’t fit in this crowded cornerback rotation. Yes, he has talent left and could easily find a new home and some playing time with another team, but in Pittsburgh, there are too many young corners to compete with.
Don’t expect Gay to be on the roster by August. At some point, Pittsburgh won’t have any option but to move on from the veteran or ask him to retire a Steeler. As much as fans have loved #22, it’s time to give these young players a chance and let a new set of guys take over the secondary.
Besides a one-year stint with the Arizona Cardinals, Gay has spent his entire career in Pittsburgh. His 408 tackles and 10 interceptions have contributed to five AFC North titles, seven playoff appearances, two Super Bowl showing, and a Super Bowl XLIII victory.
Gay will forever hold a place in Pittsburgh whether he’s on the roster or not. As they move forward to a new generation of players, Gay will likely head to a new city in 2017.
For now, the Steelers will keep him around out of respect, but don’t expect him to be on the final 53-man roster, or hold a spot in Pittsburgh by the beginning of the season.