Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney still regrets letting the last No. 26 to lead. He didn't want to let this one get away.
The Steelers on Friday signed cornerback Deshea Townsend to a four-year contract worth $8 million. The deal includes a signing bonus of just over $2 million.
Townsend was in New England talking to the Patriots when he said "the Steelers stepped up." They came through with a surprising offer, even though the Steelers have two high draft picks waiting to compete for the right cornerback job behind Townsend.
Townsend started along with restricted free agent Ike Taylor last season and was told he'd have a chance to compete for his starting job at right corner in 2006.
Townsend said, in effect, the more the merrier.
"You always need good corners," Townsend said. "You can never have enough and it's going to make us a better team."
"This situation is the best fit for me," Townsend added. "There's no other team I'd rather be on."
The 5-10, 190-pound Towsned enters 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. "He he continues to make play after play. It didn't go unnoticed by us. Hopefully, he finishes out his career as a Steeler."
Townsend 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 a busy week for the Steelers. The team re-signed Townsend and defensive end Brett Keisel, offensive tackle Barrett Brooks, tight end Jerame Tuman and linebacker Clint Kriewaldt. The Steelers also signed safety Ryan Clark from Washington and defensive end Rodney Bailey from Seattle.
"I heard some good things about Ryan Clark," said Townsend. "The Steelers know what they're doing. They always seem to find guys who fit."