William Gay passes Steelers torch to 'young guys who can play'

PITTSBURGH -- William Gay remembers veteran Deshea Townsend teaching him the Steeler way after Pittsburgh drafted him in 2007. Last year, Gay found himself imparting wisdom to Cameron Sutton, Artie Burns and other young corners the same way.

Gay calls his release from the Steelers after 10 seasons "bittersweet," but also expected.

"I understand the business part of it. You’ve got young guys who can play," Gay said. "It's the nature of the wheel. It was a blessing to see that wheel come full circle."

The Steelers are retooling the secondary with a series of moves. Releasing Gay saves the Steelers $1.75 million against the salary cap, while safety Mike Mitchell's imminent release will save another $5 million, though Mitchell could return on a new deal.

And the Steelers might not be done.

Clearly the Steelers are relying on young players to help carry the defensive backfield, and that requires a few roster moves. Veteran Joe Haden will be back, and the team has interest in safety J.J. Wilcox returning.

But the team has five recent draft picks between the ages of 22 to 24 -- Burns, Sean Davis Mike Hilton, Sutton and Brian Allen. Those players must produce.

Expect at least one safety added in the draft, as well.

Gay believes that group will get it done.

"Those guys are ready to learn, they are smart, above what their age says," Gay said. "Now it's just time to put it together and make the best of these years while they can."