Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Big Linebacker Question

When healthy, LaMarr Woodley proved he can be a dominant player, a beast, good enough that the Steelers signed him to a $61.5 million contract.

It remains to be seen how long Woodley's latest calf injury (the other calf) will keep him out of the lineup. If it's the rest of the season, he will have missed five games this year.

Woodley missed three games with a hamstring injury in 2012 and six games the year before that.

In the 11 games in which Woodley has appeared this season, he's had five sacks and been in on 36 tackles (20 solo tackles; 16 assists). There were four games in which he had zero tackles.

The Steelers' decision last off-season to move on from James Harrison signaled a changing of the guard in the linebacker corps. After years as one of the great Steelers, Harrison's age and salary conspired against his future employment with the Steelers. Age and salary had caught up previously with outstanding linebackers such as Joey Porter, Jason Gildon and Greg Lloyd.

The same may be happening with LaMarr Woodley. Already.

The seventh-year veteran is only 29, but that means the wrong side of 30 is just around the corner. His 2013 salary is $3.6 million. His 2014 salary is to be $8 million (with a $14 million salary cap hit).

The Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette has been talking about that issue lately. In his Q-and-A on the Post-Gazette's website the other day, he was asked about it the other day:
  • Question: Ed, Since it will cost the Steelers $14 million to cut Woodley, he does not seem like a reasonable cap casualty, so where does that leave this team? Should they cut Troy? How can they resign Worilds with so much dead money in front of them?
  • Ed Bouchette: I keep hearing about that $14 million figure, but that would be if they cut him before June 1. If they designated him for June 2 or cut him then, he would count only $5.5 million on their cap this year and SAVE them $8 million in cap room and real money.

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