Gay: 'I can't wait until next year'

Check out the best photos of CB Will Gay.

Veteran cornerback William Gay never intended to explore unrestricted free agency in the first place.

"Do I want to be here? Yes," Gay had insisted in the wake of the Steelers' season-ending playoff loss in January in Denver.

"But do I know? Only the owners, (General Manager) Kevin Colbert and 'Mike T' (head coach Mike Tomlin) know."

Now, Steelers Nation knows.

The three-year agreement between Gay and the Steelers announced in advance of the unrestricted free agency period will keep Gay where he hoped he'd be all along.

Gay was adamant about wanting to remain with the Steelers in the wake of their loss to the Broncos, in part because of the potential he senses for next season.

"Oh man, I can't wait until next year," he said in January. "Hopefully, I'm here.

"It's going to be one heck of a ride in 2016."

Gay was optimistic looking ahead, in part because of "just how far we came (in 2015), being a younger team and guys stepping up," he said. "If i'm here, it's going to be amazing to watch these young guys go from rookies or second-year players or third-year players to core, veteran guys."

From Gay's perspective at the conclusion of his ninth NFL season, the progress that's been made by the younger players he referenced is as intriguing as it is significant.

"I go back to when I was young, you figure out a lot of things about football," he said. "Instead of going out and you being the best person on the field, sometimes that won't be the case. But it's who's the smartest, who can out-execute each other as a team, I think that's what they learned.

That's why I say, man, if I'm here next year, I'm excited about 2016.

"I could name all the guys that are in here, just as a unit, being at practice, being at training camp for four weeks, playing five preseason games. That lets you know what type of young guys were ready to come in. Just going through the process, the battles that 2015 had four us, and for the playoffs, getting to the divisional round.

"Yes, that wasn't our goal. But when you look back on it, you had a lot of guys who now can say, like (linebacker) Ryan Shazier; I was telling him, 'All you know is playoff football, you don't know anything else, so continue that." He's one of the up-and-coming leaders, that's a good thing.

"That's why I say, if I'm here in 2016, it's going to be exciting."

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