In somewhat surprising news, the Pittsburgh Steelers have released LaMarr Woodley. His release comes just three years after the signing of a six-year/$61.5 million deal. However, since signing that lucrative contract, Woodley’s production has fallen off a cliff.
From 2011-2013, Woodley totaled half the sacks he did the prior three years. On top of that, he had trouble staying on the field. The LB has battled hamstring injuries and has also been accused of not being in shape.
So given the changes going on in Pittsburgh right now, Woodley’s release is surprising, but not really shocking. Simply put, he was not the same player that signed on to play for $61 million. The Steelers feel they’re better served to go out and acquire some new blood to put in his place, and you can’t really blame them. The back end of Woodley’s contract was loaded and if the team wanted to move on, the time was now.
This move by Pittsburgh is one of many crucial decisions the team will make in the coming days. The free agent market opens tomorrow and it will be interested to see if the Steelers make any noise at all. Many think that they’ll remain quiet (given their obvious cap issues) and that the draft will be the franchise’s main focus in 2014.
The Steelers are a team in need of getting younger. While there are some solid pieces in place on both sides of the ball right now, the overall feeling is that this team is still a year or two away from being back in legitimate contender status. The front office folks will just have to hope this cutting of Woodley doesn’t come back to haunt them. It’s unlikely that he’ll regain his Pro Bowl status with a new team, but you never know.