William Gay is heading back to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The veteran cornerback has agreed to a three-year deal with Pittsburgh, a move that should give the Steelers some insurance if unrestricted free agent Keenan Lewis decides to play elsewhere. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The 28-year-old Gay spent the first five seasons of his career in Pittsburgh before signing with the Arizona Cardinals last spring. Gay had two interceptions for the Cardinals, starting 15 of 16 games. He added three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery while playing for a defence that finished fifth in the league in yards allowed in the air.
Gay thrived while playing as a nickel back for the Steelers in 2011, finishing with two interceptions, a career-high 14 passes defenced and two fumble recoveries. He parlayed his success into a two-year, $4.95 million contract with the Cardinals, who released him last week to clear space under the salary cap.
Gay didn't waste time finding a new job. Though the return to Pittsburgh wasn't official until Monday, he started spreading the news Sunday night, changing his Twitter bio hours before the deal was officially announced.
The signing gives the Steelers a backup plan if they can't retain Lewis. The 26-year-old was spectacular at times in 2012, his long arms making him Pittsburgh's best cover cornerback. He also managed to stay healthy, a feat in a secondary pockmarked by injuries to star Troy Polamalu and mainstay Ike Taylor.
Lewis seemed open to staying in Pittsburgh, but he may have to sign a contract under market value to stick around. The Steelers have until next week to get in compliance with the salary cap and have already started making moves by reportedly restructuring the contracts of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and linebacker Lawrence Timmons, among others.