Steelers Re-sign Townsend

The Patriots flirted with adding a defender the same day they released Tyrone Poole. Pittsburgh's Deshea Townsend was in Foxboro on Thursday, and back in Pittsburgh on Friday. He opted to rejoin his former team in a 4-year, $8 million deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney has always regretted allowing the last player to wear the No. 26 to leave the team.

He wouldn’t allow it to happen a second time as the Steelers on Friday signed cornerback Deshea Townsend, who took over future Hall of Famer Rod Woodson’s signature No. 26 after Woodson left the Steelers as a free agent, to a four-year contract worth $8 million. The deal includes a signing bonus of just over $2 million.

The signing could be a hint that the Steelers aren’t quite sold on the young corners on their roster. Townsend started along with restricted free agent Ike Taylor last season and was told he’ll continue to be the team’s starting right corner in 2006.

The Steelers have selected a pair of corners – Ricardo Colclough in 2004 and Bryant McFadden in 2005 – in the second round of the past two drafts and the speculation had been that one of those two would be ready to start in 2006.

“You always need good corners,” Townsend said. “You can never have enough and it’s going to make us a better team.”

Townsend had visited the New England Patriots this week and said the Steelers upped their offer to him in an effort to keep him from signing there.

“This situation is the best,” said Townsend, who had two interceptions last season. “There’s no other team I’d rather be on.”

The 5-10, 190-pound Towsned will be entering his ninth season in the NFL, all of which he’s spent with the Steelers, who selected him in the fourth round of the 1998 draft.

“When you think about a Deshea Townsend, you think about a guy who’s always been there for us,” said Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert. “And he continues to make plays. It didn’t go unnoticed by us. Hopefully, he finishes out his career as a Steeler.”

Townsend has started 46 games in his career with Pittsburgh, including 23 over the past two seasons. He started 15 of the 16 regular-season games in 2005 and all four postseason games. Townsend’s three sacks in 2005 tied Troy Polamalu for the most by a Steelers defensive back.

For his career, Townsend has 261 career tackles and 14.5 sacks, including one in Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl XL victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He also has 14 career interceptions.

Townsend’s signing caps off a week in which the Steelers were more active than they have ever been in free agency. The team has not only re-signed Townsend, but also defensive end Brett Keisel, offensive tackle Barrett Brooks, tight end Jerame Tuman and linebacker Clint Kriewaldt. It has also signed free agent safety Ryan Clark from Washington and defensive end Rodney Bailey from Seattle.

“I heard some good things about Ryan Clark,” said Townsend of Clark, who will replace Chris Hope as the team’s starting free safety. “The Steelers know what they’re doing. They always seem to find guys who fit.”

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