With cap problems going into 2014 and the fact that linebacker LaMarr Woodley has been hampered by injures over the pas few years, there’s always the chance the Steelers could end up releasing him after this season.
Len Pasquarelli of the National Football Post breakdown the situation.
Much has already been written about the looming salary cap problems for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014, and there will be plenty more attention paid to it once the club concludes a second straight year without a playoff berth. But for now, the team, which has already started crunching numbers, is hopeful that coming into compliance with the $126.3 million cap (that was the spending limit recently floated to owners, although it’s expected to be a little higher) won’t include the release of linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
The seven-year veteran is under contract through the 2016 season, at salaries of $8 million in 2014 ($13.6 million cap), $8.5 million for 2015 ($14.1 million cap charge) and $9 million ($12 million cap). The 29-year-old Woodley, who has suffered through injuries the past couple years and recently went on I.R., has only nine sacks the last two seasons. He hasn’t had double-digit sacks since 2010, his third straight year with 10 or more. But venerable defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau still feels Woodley has something left in the tank and wouldn’t mind continuing in 2014 to fiddle with a rush alignment that includes Woodley, current sack leader Jason Worilds and 2013 first-rounder Jarvis Jones.
Of course, to do so, the Steelers have to conjure up a way to keep Woodley and stop the emerging Worilds from departing as an unrestricted free agent. No small feat, to be sure, but the Steelers feel that some retirements, adjustments to veteran contracts (like that of safety Troy Polamalu?) and addressing the contract status of Ben Roethlisberger will help staunch the projected overage. Pittsburgh has been in a kind of “cap jail” for a few years now but, the current surplus aside, club officials think the situation can be resolved in another year or two.
It may end up making sense for the Steelers to release Woodley and move on . There’s not a team in the NFL that does a better job of continuing to draft talent at the linebacker position.