Tuesday afternoon brought just about the best news possible — at least in the current market — for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ secondary.

The club locked up veteran cornerback William Gay, inking him to a new contract that will keep him as the anchor of an often-maligned and at times downright not-so-good unit in the back end of the defense.

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Had the Steelers lost William Gay, a situation that sometimes borders on precarious could have been categorically dire. But Gay, 31, is as close to a steadying force as there is back there and, hopefully, the Steelers’ back end of the defense can use him as a hub for a few years moving forward with which to grow.

Who knows, maybe you go out and draft a guy in the first few rounds to complement him or entrust youngsters such as Senquez Golson, Antwon Blake, Ross Cockrell and Doran Grant? No one knows how it will work out, but getting William Gay under another contract is, without question, a necessary starting point if that secondary is going to be better moving forward as Gay was a guy who didn’t allow a touchdown pass over him all last season.

When you think of Gay as a steadying force, I don’t know what you think about, but I know what I think about: Ramon Foster.

In a weird way, I think about the need to bring back Ramon Foster as a guy who has become a reliable and steady performer on a unit that sometimes can come under criticism but, more often, is more good than bad.

That’s why when I see the Gay news today, it feels like it is imperative that the Steelers find a way to get Foster under contract again.

For the most part, it feels like the Steelers have a pretty clear choice along the offensive line, as they will either being back guard Foster or tackle Kelvin Beachum on that left side. With the money that Beachum might command — and his stated reluctance to move positions — is there really much of a decision to make?

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For me, you let Beachum walk and get the guy — in Foster — who has been the emotional and durable leader of the unit under contract and then build from there.

Again, Foster is to the offensive line what Gay is to the defensive backfield.

There is more to it, however.

When looking at the play of the Steelers’ offensive line this past season, many point out the execution of both Alejandro Villanueva and Cody Wallace, who were thrust into starting roles because of injury. It can be pretty clearly and unanimously stated that Villanueva and Wallace played better than what most expected them to.

Know the common denominator in their play? They had Foster to lean on; Foster played between them, making them better and giving them help when they needed. To me, it’s that simple — Foster’s presence made those two guys better.

And when I see William Gay getting a new contract today, the thoughts are pretty simple as well. What he does for the defense is largely what Foster does for the offense. The Steelers need to find a way to bring that guy back on offense because they just found a way to bring that steadying, veteran force back on defense.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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