The Pittsburgh Steelers have finally parted ways with linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
The news broke yesterday afternoon that Woodley would be released as a post June 1 casualty. This allowed the Steelers to free up around $8 million in cap space, while allowing Woodley to sign immediately with whichever team he chooses.
It comes as no surprise the Steelers let the seven year veteran go. After signing linebacker Jason Worilds to a transition tag in which he accepted it appears the Steelers are in the process of finding Worilds a long-term deal.
Woodley, the highest paid defensive player in Steelers’ history, had been a quality pass rusher during the Steelers runs in the playoffs and Super Bowl. However, Woodley became a victim of the injury bug and often found himself on the sidelines.
Woodley was being paid way too much for spending that much time on the sidelines and along with injuries his productivity saw a decline in recent seasons.
Last season Worilds took over Woodley’s normal position shifting Woodley to the right side. Woodley, 29, recorded only 5 sacks and one forced fumble. He also only played in nine games last season.
The Steelers weren’t even close to getting the production they’d hope to get out of Woodley for the amount he was making. In the stretch from 2008 to 2011, Woodley was one of the best linebackers in the league and that led to the hefty contract.
Now, he’s on his way out and Steelers will put their faith in Worilds to be their next linebacking superstar. The Steelers defense is beginning to get younger with guys like Worilds, Jarvis Jones and Vince Williams. There’s hope that these players will get better in time.
It also wouldn’t be surpising if the Steelers sought out a linebacker in this year’s draft. The defense will be a priority this draft term, mainly in the secondary but never rule out a linebacker for the Steelers.
Despite his decline in recent seasons, Woodley will need be a top pass rusher available on the free market. I don’t think it’ll be too long before some team gives him chance. It’ll be interesting to see if Woodley can the steer the ship straight and play at high level like he once did.